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The "Lists" that Big Pharma Is and Isn’t On

Guest Blogger

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I like lists just about as much as I like statistics. That’s saying a lot.

This week we saw the release of two new “lists”: The Top 500 Most Valuable Brands and the 25 Companies with the Best Customer Service.

Do you think pharmaceutical companies or their brands were included on either list? Read on:

Brand Finance, a UK based brand valuation company, released this list of Top 500 most valuable global brands. Retail giant Walmart retained the top spot, with Google at #2. Several major pharmaceutical companies did indeed make the list, including:

  • Johnson & Johnson (#85)
  • Pfizer (#131)
  • Merck (#150)
  • Sanofi-aventis (#161)
  • Abbott (#169)
  • AstraZeneca (#222)
  • Lilly (#264)
  • Schering-Plough (#343)
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb (#347)
  • Baxter (#468)

You’ll notice that while many consumer product brands were listed, (Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Budweiser), no pharmaceutical product brands were. (Sorry, John Mack Only the parent, corporate entities were mentioned among the strongest of global brands. Certainly many of these pharmaceutical company names: or some iteration of them - go way back in the global history of science and medicine. But often pharma product brands don’t have the same name around the world, and due to patent laws, they just can’t enjoy that longevity. They also just don’t have the reach of a brand like McDonald’s or Disney. Because while just about everyone has eaten at McDonald’s at some point in their life or seen a Disney movie, not everyone is taking the same medication for the same illness.

For example, Claritin has been a consumer brand for years: it was one of the first to be advertised directly to consumers: and still lives today as an over-the-counter entity. But with apologies to Schering-Plough, Claritin will just never be a Coca-Cola.

By the way, here are the top 20 (global) brands that did make the list:

  1. Walmart
  2. Google
  3. Coca-Cola
  4. IBM
  5. Microsoft
  6. GE
  7. Vodafone
  8. HSBC
  9. HP
  10. Toyota
  11. AT&T
  12. Santander
  13. Verizon
  15. Budweiser
  16. Tesco
  17. McDonald’s
  18. Walt Disney
  19. Apple
  20. Nokia

Top Customer Service Champs

Also released this week was BusinessWeek’s list of the Top-Ranked Customer Service Champs. Of note: one credit card company and two major airlines made the list. (Airlines? Really? Have you flown lately?)

Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, no pharma companies made this list. It is a little unfair because in the grand scheme of things, pharma companies have done a lot of good and “service” over the years, providing life-saving, pain-easing, symptom-relieving medications. That said, the past weeks’ news about Avandia and the asthma drugs hasn’t helped Big Pharma’s reputation. Is it time pharmaceutical companies stepped up and truly focused on the customer and their needs beyond the popping of a pill? For example, there is an opportunity to:

  • Open the door for feedback from customers: both patients and HCPs. Go ahead and put that open text box on the brand website. Open up the lines of a live chat window. No doubt patients will provide their accolades, their stories, their complaints, their questions, and yes: maybe an occasional adverse event or two. But opening up the lines of communications will work toward fixing the current dysfunctional relationship between consumers and pharma companies.
  • Help consumers pay for their meds. I’ve posted in the past about how pharma companies can help consumers during the recession. See those suggestions here.
  • Help consumers with their conditions, and help them stay on their meds. Many companies are already doing this through patient support and compliance/adherence programs. And many companies are spending TONS of money to develop these programs, and yet enrollment stays flat. Companies should swing the focus to what truly benefits the patient firs: not the company: and work harder to let patients know about the availability and benefits of these programs,

So here’s the list of top 25 customer-service-focused companies, courtesy of BusinessWeek:

Sorry pharma. Maybe next time.


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