Novartis has the best corporate reputation out of 30 companies within the pharmaceutical industry, according to a survey of 500 large and influential patient groups worldwide.

The Swiss major came top in four of the six indicators on which the survey, conducted by PatientView, asked the patient groups to rate companies. Specifically, they considered Novartis to be the best of the 30 at: - having an effective patient-centred strategy; - the quality of the information for patients which it provides; - its record on patient safety; and - the usefulness of its products to patients.

Gilead was judged best of the 30 firms for both the other two indicators - its record on transparency with external stakeholders and whether it acts with integrity - for which Novartis came second and third, respectively.

Pfizer and Lundbeck were placed second and third overall in terms of corporate reputation, which PatientView defines as "the extent to which pharmaceutical companies are meeting the expectations of patients and patient groups."

However, overall, the survey finds that patient groups do not consider the reputation of the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and generic pharmaceutical industries to be good. Only 42% say they believe the multinational pharma industry has a "good" or "excellent" corporate reputation, while for biotech and the generics sector the equivalent figures are 44% and 41%, respectively.

These percentages are all lower than the rankings given to retail pharmacists, private healthcare providers and medical device companies; 62% of the patient groups told the survey that they regard retail pharmacies as having a "good" or "excellent" corporate reputation, while 54% hold this view for private healthcare providers and 53% for medical device manufacturers.

Moreover, only a minority of respondents thinks that the reputation of Big Pharma has improved over the last five years, with 38% considering it to have declined and 33% believing it to be unchanged.

And while 66% of the respondents believe that pharmaceutical companies are "good" or "excellent" at being innovative, only 13% consider them to be "good" or "excellent" at adopting fair pricing strategies which ensure that they do not make "unseemly" profits. Just 31% consider that companies act with integrity, with only one-third believing that drugmakers run ethical marketing practices and 23% considering them to be transparent in their corporate activities.

The survey also shows that patients believe the pharmaceutical industry overall is failing to address their needs. Only 29% of respondents say that companies run a patient-centred strategy, while 39% believe that they provide high-quality patient information and just 38% consider them to be good at managing adverse news about their products.

A report analysing the findings of the survey, which PatientView plans to conduct on an annual basis, presents strategic recommendations from the responding groups on how, from a patient perspective, companies can improve their corporate reputation. The patient groups surveyed were drawn from 61 countries across the world.