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Most Americans Support Price Controls for Prescription Drug Costs, Poll Finds

Jackie Syrop
A large majorities of Americans favor a wide range of policy changes to curb prescription drug costs, including those that give government a greater role in negotiating or limiting drug prices, according to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll.
A large majorities of Americans favor a wide range of policy changes to curb prescription drug costs, including those that give government a greater role in negotiating or limiting drug prices, according to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Health Tracking Poll.

The poll, which was conducted soon after revelations about a huge price increase for Mylan’s EpiPen epinephrine pen injector, revealed that 77% of respondents say prescription costs are unreasonable. There is widespread support for a variety of actions to keep costs down, including requiring drug companies to publicize information on how they set drug prices (86%), allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to get a lower price on drugs for people on Medicare (82%), limiting the amount drug companies can charge for high-cost drugs for illnesses like cancer (78%), allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs imported from Canada (71%), and creating an independent group that oversees the pricing of prescription drugs (66%).

The poll found the respondents divided on the Affordable Care Act (ACA): 44% have a favorable view and 47% have an unfavorable view of the ACA. In deciding which candidate to vote for in the November 2016 presidential election, 44% of voters say the candidates’ personal characteristics, including their leadership ability, character, values, and experience, will make the biggest difference in how they vote for president than say the candidates’ stances on specific issues (39%) or the candidate’s political party (7%). Among registered voters, supports of Donald Trump say candidates’ stances on issues will affect who they vote for, whereas Hillary Clinton supporters say candidates’ personal characteristics (leadership ability, character, values, experience) make the biggest difference in who they vote for.

When asked about the role of healthcare issues in their choice of presidential candidate, two-thirds of voters say a candidate’s plan to address the future of the ACA is very important to their vote. Six in 10 say the same thing about a candidate’s plan to address the cost of health insurance premiums, 55% say the same about a candidate’s plan to address the cost of deductibles, and 51% say the same about a candidate’s plan to address prescription drug prices. However, more Clinton supporters than Trump supporters say a candidate’s plan to address a series of healthcare issues is “very important” to their vote.

Smaller segments of voters say a candidate’s plan to address the number of Americans who are uninsured (43%), the ongoing opioid epidemic (43%), or the Zika virus outbreak (26%) is very important to their vote. A majority (56%) say prescription drugs developed over the past 20 years have generally made the lives of people living in this country better, including 35% who say these drugs have made their lives “a lot better.” This is actually a decrease in the share of people who say this since March 2008, when 73% said that prescription drugs have made the lives of Americans better.

KFF noted that cost could be one reason why the share of Americans who say prescription drugs have made the lives of people in the US better is declining. The survey found a large majority (77%) of respondents now believe drug costs are unreasonable, and the share of Americans saying this has increased over the past year. 

 
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