New poll shows growing public frustration with high Rx prices and demand for policy solutions

December 13, 2016

harris_pollMore than 90 percent of Americans blame pharmaceutical companies for the high cost of health care, and a growing majority wants to see government intervention to reverse the trend. Those are among the key findings of a new HealthDay/Harris Poll.

The poll, taken in mid-October, surveyed more than 2,100 Americans ages 18 and older to gauge support for a range of public policy solutions to rising drug prices. Across the board, support is increasing for:

  • Price controls or caps. 81 percent of Americans support price caps on drugs and medical devices. That’s up from 73 percent in a 2015 Harris Poll.
  • Medicare negotiating prices on pharmaceuticals for all insurers. Nearly three out of four Americans support this policy proposal, compared with about two-thirds a year ago.
  • Importing lower-cost drugs from other countries like Canada. The number of people who support imports has grown to 74 percent from 56 in 2015.

“Recent reports of big drug price increases seem to have made the public even angrier with the pharmaceutical industry than they were before,” said Humphrey Taylor, chairman emeritus of The Harris Poll.

He cites recent public outcry over the EpiPen, an emergency allergy injector, for a two-pack increasing from $100 in 2007 to $600 this year. That was preceded by Turing Pharmaceuticals buying out the generic drug, Daraprim, and jacking up the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Daraprim treats life-threatening parasitic infections and has been on the market for more than 60 years.

While support builds for public policy solutions to Rx prices, Americans are less willing to believe the pharmaceutical industry’s rationale for price increases. Only one out of three agree with the statement that “high prescription drug prices are necessary to keep research and development moving forward.”

Overwhelming majorities – about nine in 10 Americans –agree that the drug industry is “taking advantage of consumers” and “making too much money off life-saving medications,” according to the poll.

Voices for Affordable Health has looked closely at the politics of pharmaceutical drug costs. Read our in-depth report And share your own story of how rising drug prices have affected you.