Pharma is winning the big business popularity contest

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Boxes of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine sitting in freezers...
Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

It used to be easy to hate pharmaceutical companies. Between soaring drug costs and the opioid crisis, the industry was widely perceived as one that put profits over people’s health. In a 2019 Gallup survey, pharma was ranked dead last for positive perception among United States institutions. People had more positive feelings about the federal government than Big Pharma.

That year, technology companies were more popular. In a different survey, just under half of US adults had a positive view of the tech sector. It’s hard to compare two different polls head to head, but the general trend is clear: in 2019, people felt better about tech companies than they did about pharma.

But then, the pandemic hit, and the country’s recovery depended...

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