Reputation – General Public: Research and Development

Read more about how the general public see the pharmaceutical sector’s contribution to research and development

There is a consensus that pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK are highly advanced and use cutting-edge technologies. The sector is closely associated with intellectualism and scientific prowess. There is also widespread agreement that advances in modern medicine have led to increased life expectancy in the UK.

However, the public tend to have little knowledge of how the sector operates, including specifically how it discovers, researches and develops medicines and vaccines. In the absence of a deeper understanding of the sector’s activities, it is also strongly associated with the themes of ‘wealth’ and ‘influence’ – which aren’t aspects of image that are unique to the sector.

I have become more aware of the work that [Pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK] do and the speed with which they worked to find a vaccine was incredible, General Public Respondent

Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements (March 2021):

Pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK…

Trust in the sector is underpinned by its R&D activities, the sector’s role in tackling the pandemic and an appreciation that it is subject to rigorous regulatory standards. The development of COVID-19 vaccines in particular has been instrumental in building positive perceptions of R&D. Almost seven in ten believe that the sector plays a leading role in discovering new medicines, compared to three in five prior to the pandemic – an opinion notably prevalent among those aged over 55. The UK is regarded as a major global player in research and development – with pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK perceived to have more advanced R&D than other most other countries, with the exception of the USA.

We have some great companies, but don’t know if we are leading in the world. I feel we are a major player. General Public Respondent

R&D is a way in which the sector is seen to add value to society

The fundamental role and activities of pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK – researching and developing medicines and vaccines – is seen as the way it adds value to society and the economy, as well as through job creation and taxation.

Last modified: 20 September 2023

Last reviewed: 20 September 2023