The pharmaceutical industry has been ranked as one of the highest contributors to UK society, but public perception still falls far below other sectors, claims a new study by Portland.

The dissonance means that the industry ranks among the least successful sectors in demonstrating its value to society, scoring consistently low on perceptions for most measures in Portland’s total value index.

The total value index measures the value that organisations create for all stakeholders, looking at nine sectors and using a wide range of measures including profits and dividends, R&D levels, employee diversity and satisfaction to records on corporate tax and the environment, to assess and rank the total value performance of sectors.

The data found that the pharmaceutical industry adds much more value than most sectors, particularly in local investment, strong dividend performance, and the presence of female CEOs, despite having the largest perception gap of any sector for their role as a producer, demonstrating the “greater need for individual companies to explain the life-changing nature of the medicines that they create.”

Negative drivers that lowered overall perceptions of the industry were found to include public drug price debates with the NHS, Brexit stockpiling uncertainties, executive pay and lack of transparency over clinical trials.

Dr Jane Brearley, head of health at Portland explained the findings show that the pharma industry can “no longer rely on old narratives of large R&D investment to raise its reputation.

“To cut-through to payers and the public, individual companies must centre their value story on the life-changing effects of their treatments for patients, and their ability to provide the NHS with the headroom it sorely needs”.

The Total Value Index measures the value brought to society by nine sectors – retail, TMT, banks, automotive, real estate, oil & gas, food, water and pharma.