Most Americans Believe That Prescription Drug Costs Are Unreasonable

March 26, 2018
The Center for Biosimilars Staff

Approximately 80% of Americans think that the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable, and 73% believe that pharmaceutical companies are making too much profit on their products.

Approximately 80% of Americans think that the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable, and 73% believe that pharmaceutical companies are making too much profit on their products. Those figures come from the Kaiser Family Foundation's Health Tracking Poll, which sought to measure public perceptions of the cost of prescription drugs, attitudes toward policy makers' actions to address prices, and views of pharmaceutical companies.

The poll found that more than half of Americans are taking at least 1 prescription drug, and a quarter are taking at least 4 prescription drugs. Although most respondents (74%) reported that they can afford their medications, among those who said that they take 4 or more drugs, 35% of uninsured people younger than 65 years said that they had skipped filling a prescription because of cost, and 26% reported cutting pills in half or missing doses to save money. Those who had an income of under $40,000 per year reported the worst compliance.

Most respondents (72%) said that pharmaceutical companies have too much influence in Washington, 77% said that pharma’s profits are a major factor contributing to the high cost of drugs, and just over half had an unfavorable view of pharmaceutical companies.

Opinions on how to address high drug prices were divided along partisan lines; 84% of Democrats believed that Democrats would do the best job of bringing down costs, whereas 78% of Republicans said that their own party would do the best job. A majority of Democrats (57%) favored greater regulation to keep down prescription drug costs, while most Republicans (76%) said that market competition would be most effective.

Despite partisan divides, most respondents said that the government should negotiate lower prices for the Medicare program (92%), encourage generic market entry (87%), require manufacturers to disclose pricing information (86%), limit costs of drugs for indications like cancer (78%), and allow for importation of cheaper drugs from Canada (72%).

With respect to drug importation, more respondents (76%) felt confident that buying imported Canadian drugs would make medicine affordable without sacrificing quality versus buying drugs from Canadian online pharmacies (68%).

More than half of respondents (52%) said that passing legislation to bring down the price of drugs should be a top priority for President Trump and Congress in the coming months. That initiative ranks higher in public’s opinion than passing an infrastructure bill, addressing misuse of opioid drugs, or repealing the Affordable Care Act, and most voters say that a candidate’s stance on a national health plan will be an important factor in upcoming elections.

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