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Let’s Talk About Mental Health

A recent report has ranked the pharma industry’s reputation among mental health-focused patient groups. And the findings show that the industry has a long way to go. Nearly half of the patient groups surveyed did not work with any pharma companies, and 11 percent only worked with one or two (1).

“We were quite surprised at the low level of networking between pharma and mental health patient groups,” says Alex Wyke, CEO of PatientView, the company behind the report. Of 101 participating patient groups, after quite high scores from the leading companies (Janssen, Lundbeck, and Eli Lilly), the numbers drop substantially. Of course, it’s important to remember that companies will not deal with every kind of mental health condition, and some may be extremely specialized and only deal in small areas of the field. But even so, the level of networking was still low when compared to other disease areas, such as cancer.”

“Mental health has always been a difficult area for pharma companies to tread. It’s important to remember that historically there have been some big issues around how mental health was treated – and it remains an understandably sensitive area for patients and patient groups,” says Wyke. “In the past, patient groups have been among the most critical of the industry, but more recently there is an increasing feeling that they have a greater contribution to make”.

Many of the groups surveyed called for greater involvement from pharma – and pharma’s approval among these groups has improved from the previous year, with 35 percent of respondents rating pharma’s corporate reputation as “excellent” or “good”, up from 20 percent in 2016. To build good relationships with pharma, respondents called for the following conditions:

  • Real, not token, ambitions by companies towards being patient-centric: only 28 percent of respondents felt companies were “excellent” or “good” at patient centricity
  • Greater transparency
  • More sophisticated pricing policies, which consider the impact of prices on patient access to medicine
  • More innovation in drug development: patient groups would like to see R&D lead to products in tune with patient’s needs.

Wyke adds that there are clear rewards for pharma companies who work to engage mental health patient groups. “The power of the patient movement is only growing, and the reach of these groups today is more profound than ever before. Patient groups are influencing healthcare systems and gaining representation on regulatory bodies. Talking to these groups is the best way to find out what the patients they represent want from you as a company, and pharma an industry.”

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  1. PatientView “Corporate reputation of pharma companies, 2017-2018 - the patient perspective of 101 mental health patient groups”, (2018). Available at:
About the Author
Roisin McGuigan

I have an extensive academic background in the life sciences, having studied forensic biology and human medical genetics in my time at Strathclyde and Glasgow Universities. My research, data presentation and bioinformatics skills plus my ‘wet lab’ experience have been a superb grounding for my role as a Deputy Editor at Texere Publishing. The job allows me to utilize my hard-learned academic skills and experience in my current position within an exciting and contemporary publishing company.

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