Americans support government action to lower Rx prices

August 31, 2015

More than 7 out of 10 Americans believe that drug costs are unreasonable and drug companies place profits before people, according to a recent Kaiser Health Tracking poll.

More than 7 out of 10 Americans believe that drug costs are unreasonable and drug companies place profits before people, according to a recent Kaiser Health Tracking poll.

However, the poll also found that most Americans (62%) believe prescription drugs developed in the past 20 years have improved the lives of people in the United States.

About half of those polled (54%) said they were currently taking prescription drugs. Seventy-two percent of respondents said their prescriptions were easy to afford, while 24% reported difficulty paying for their prescriptions.

A majority of those polled also favored federal government intervention to lower prescription costs, including requiring drug companies to release information on how they set drug prices (86%); allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to obtain lower prices for Medicare recipients (83%); and limiting the amount drug companies can charge for drugs that are used to treat illnesses such as hepatitis or cancer (76%).

"Unlike most things in health policy, there is bipartisan support for almost any action we have polled on that people think will control drug prices," Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the Associated Press. "Even Republicans seem to support aggressive action by government."

Those polled also supported allowing Americans to import cheaper-priced drugs from Canada. Earlier this year, U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John McCain (R-Az.) introduced a bill that would allow Americans with valid prescriptions from licensed, U.S. physicians to order up to a 90-day supply of medicines from licensed Canadian pharmacies.

 

Maine is the only state that allows residents to buy drugs from pharmacies outside the United States [Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom]. However, several groups are fighting to overturn that state law, including the Maine Pharmacy Association, the Retail Association of Maine, the Maine Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

The poll also revealed that public perception of pharmaceutical companies is not good. Forty-two percent of respondents viewed pharmaceutical companies favorably, that is similar to public perception of oil companies (40%) and health insurers (44%).