Lundbeck has the best corporate reputation out of 29 pharmaceutical companies, according to 600 patient groups from 56 countries polled by PatientView for its latest annual report.

Lundbeck - replacing Novartis which topped last year's poll - was judged to be the best at proving high-quality information to patients and at being transparent with external stakeholders. Novartis was judged to be the best at having an effective patient-centred strategy, as it was last year, but lost out this year to Lundbeck on the information indicator, to Novo Nordisk at having a good record at ensuring patient safety and to Allergan for providing high-quality, useful products.

Gilead Sciences was for the second year judged to be the best company in terms of acting with integrity, but lost out to Lundbeck for its record on transparency with external stakeholders.

Overall, the reputation of the pharmaceutical industry declined in 2012, the study finds. Only 34% of the 600 patient groups told the latest survey that multinational drugmakers had an "excellent" or "good" reputation, compared with 42% for 2011. And 40% of the groups said that the sector's reputation had declined last year, with 50% judging the industry's pricing policies to be "poor."

Other indicators used by the survey also showed sharp falls in the industry's reputation between 2011 and 2012; for example, on companies' management of adverse news about a product the drop was 29%, while for having ethical marketing practices it was 23% and for having a good relationship with the media the decline was 19%. 

Among the reasons given by the patient groups for the fall in the industry's reputation last year was its perceived continuing failure to help patients in cash-strapped southern European countries such as Greece, Portugal, Romania and Spain to gain access to medicines. 

The groups also criticise pharma for: - a perceived preoccupation with drugs that offer only short-term health benefits; - making insufficient effort to discover new chemical entities (NCOs) suitable for neglected groups of patients; - inappropriate marketing of drugs, including for off-label indications; - a perceived lack of transparency, especially in reporting disappointing results of clinical trials; and - for pricing their products at levels which are, in some cases, still unaffordable to many patients or their payers, culminating in a general impression that "profit comes before making people well."

Many of the 600 patient groups referred to negative press during the year to explain why they had downgraded their opinion of some companies, particularly on issues of transparency, patient safety and company integrity. Drugmakers with a high exposure to "bad" stories in 2012 saw their rankings drop, while other, less-affected firms benefited as a result.

The top 10 companies for 2012, with their 2011 rankings in brackets, were judged to be: 1- Lundbeck (3); 2 - Gilead Sciences (10); 3 - Novartis (1); 4 - Janssen (not featured); 5 - Pfizer (2); 6 - Abbott (8); 7 - Novo Nordisk (11); 8 - Roche (9); 9 - Lilly (18); and 10 - GlaxoSmithKline (4).

The other firms examined were Allergan, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Baxter International, Bayer, Biogen Idec, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Menarini, Merck & Co (US), Merck Group (Germany), Sanofi, Servier, Shire, Stada Arzneimittel, Takeda, Teva and UCB.

The report is available for purchase only from PatientView. Sample pages can be found on the following link: Information on its findings is also available on PatientView's web pages and blogs.