New research from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and Ipsos MORI reveals attitudes to the pharmaceutical industry in the UK, including perceptions of healthcare professionals (HCPs), the public and members of parliament.

The findings from the ‘Pharmaceutical Industry Reputation Index’ come from a year-long study into the perceptions of the pharma sector in the UK and how these have been shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the research, 67% of HCPs interviewed believed the pharma industry has supported the NHS during the pandemic, with 76% believing that the sector is doing all it can to develop solutions to end the pandemic.

Almost two-thirds of HCPs also believe that the industry is continuing to invest in research for other disease areas while the pandemic continues.

Meanwhile, research among more than 8,000 members of the public across the UK showed 60% of the public said their views of the industry had improved since the pandemic in March 2021.

This is a significant improvement from July 2020, the first wave of the study, when 36% said their views had improved.

Also in March 2021, 71% believed that pharma companies operating in the UK have supported the NHS during the pandemic, while 68% believed these companies are ensuring medicines and vaccines for COVID-19 are affordable and available for all.

The research also found that 87% of people in the UK have either already received the COVID-19 vaccine or are willing to have one.

Although general sentiments about the pharma industry have improved, the research found this has not been reflected into a deeper understanding of the sector and the role of companies in health in ‘normal times’.

In March 2021, the study found only 14% feel they know ‘a lot or a fair amount’ about the sector, with no change since the first wave of the study in July 2020.

Beyond the pandemic, 69% believe that the UK industry plays a leading role globally in discovering new medicines, compared with 59% in June 2020.

“We have to learn from the successes of the past year and ensure that the spirit of collaboration and a mission-led approach to tackling all diseases is at the heart of everything we do,” said Ben Osborn, president of the ABPI.

“This work gives us great insight into how the commitment and dedication of companies in the face of this pandemic has impacted our reputation with the public and with the NHS we work so closely with. And where we can improve,” he added.