Poll: Most see pre­scrip­tion drug prices as too high

Amer­i­cans fa­vor fed­eral ac­tion to rein in costs to help out con­sumers, sur­vey finds

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - By Noam N. Levey

WASH­ING­TON — More than 3 in 4 Amer­i­cans be­lieve that pre­scrip­tion drug prices are un­rea­son­able, a new poll shows.

And large ma­jori­ties — in­clud­ing Democrats and Repub­li­cans — fa­vor gov­ern­ment steps to make phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals more af- ford­able for con­sumers, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey by the non­profit Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion.

The sup­port for fed­eral ac­tion comes amid a se­ries of dra­matic price spikes by drug mak­ers.

Those price hikes may be driv­ing a de­cline in pub­lic ap­pre­ci­a­tion for pre­scrip­tion drugs, the Kaiser study’s au­thors spec­u­lated.

The share of Amer­i­cans who be­lieve pre­scrip­tion drugs have made lives bet­ter, though still a ma­jor­ity, has de­clined from 73 per­cent in 2008 and 62 per­cent last year to 56 per­cent to­day.

At the same time, there is wide­spread sup­port — 78 per­cent — for new re­stric­tions on how much phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies can charge for high-cost drugs for ill­nesses such as hep­ati­tis or can­cer.

More than 8 in 10 Amer­i­cans fa­vor al­low­ing the fed- eral gov­ern­ment to ne­go­ti­ate with drug mak­ers to get lower prices on med­i­ca­tions for peo­ple on Medi­care, a move that the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try and its sup­port­ers in Congress have blocked for years.

Soar­ing drug prices are in­creas­ingly be­ing cited by in­sur­ers and gov­ern­ment pro­grams as a lead­ing cause of ris­ing health care costs, though most con­sumers are still shielded by their in­sur­ance plans from many of the high­est prices.

Nearly three-quar­ters of Amer­i­cans tak­ing pre­scrip­tion drugs re­ported that it was easy to af­ford their pre­scrip­tions, Kaiser found.

Both lead­ing pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates — Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton and Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump — have pledged to take new steps to ad­dress pre­scrip­tion drug pric­ing.

Clin­ton last year put out a de­tailed pre­scrip­tion drug agenda, which in­cludes al­low­ing Medi­care to ne­go­ti­ate lower prices and al- low­ing Amer­i­cans to im­port cheaper drugs from abroad.

Trump’s health care pro­pos­als are far less de­tailed, though the busi­ness­man has also voiced sup­port for al­low­ing Amer­i­cans to im­port less ex­pen­sive drugs.

The Kaiser poll, which was con­ducted from Sept. 14 to Sept. 20, sur­veyed 1,204 adults na­tion­wide and has a sam­pling er­ror of plus or mi­nus three per­cent­age points.

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