Pharmaceutical company reputation can drive more patient inquiries, more patient advocacy, and increased sales, according to new research from APCO Worldwide.

The second in a series of studies using the company's proprietary Return on Reputation research model, the research tool is designed to help companies better understand and address the expectations of key stakeholders in order to protect, enhance and track their reputations over time.

Based on quantitative research from more than 3,000 respondents, including health care providers, policy-makers and health care opinion leaders, the model measures the effect of overall reputation on a number of specific business outcomes, including: consumer behavior, prescribing behavior, community activism, the policy environment, the litigation environment and financial value.

The survey found that with a one-point increase in the pharmaceutical industry's reputation:
• An additional 28,000 patients ask their doctors about a company's medicine
• Sales for the average pharmaceutical company increase by 3.33 percent
• An additional 83,000 community activists actively and vocally advocate on behalf of the industry
• The proportion of policy-makers who support policies favorable to the industry increases by half a percentage-point
• More than 5.7 million additional people are likely to support and defend the industry when crises arise
• Market capitalization increases .23 percent for the average pharmaceutical company

APCO also uncovered core drivers that have the greatest impact in shaping and improving a pharmaceutical company's reputation. One key opportunity is in demonstrating leadership in addressing the growing problem of chronic disease. Policymakers, healthcare providers and patients all expect the industry to play a more prominent role in helping the country better manage chronic disease and to partner with the public health community in promoting disease prevention.

Across stakeholders, affordability emerges as the industry's single weakest-performing driver. A growing expectation for the industry is transparency around drug pricing. Pharmaceutical companies can make a meaningful impact on business success by educating policy-makers and the public on the main causes related to the cost of medicines and by demonstrating how medicines decrease health care costs overall.

"Companies in the pharmaceutical industry have been beset by a wide range of unique challenges that affect public confidence and the ability to remain competitive in the marketplace," says Robert Schooling, global head of APCO's healthcare practice. "From concerns about product safety and quality to evolving expectations for addressing chronic disease, cost of health care and the future of innovation, stakeholders expect, now more than ever, that pharmaceutical companies remain trusted and leading corporate citizens."