facebook Coronavirus pandemic influences American public opinion on high drug costs

BIG PHARMA POLITICS: Consumers pressure politicians to do something about rising drug prices. Read More

Coronavirus pandemic influences American public opinion on high drug costs

American consumers were already in favor of lowering drug prices before 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic has added urgency to the debate.

New polling from Data for Progress and Be a Hero finds that voters in some of 2020’s battleground states are ready for a more aggressive policy agenda to make COVID-19 vaccines and treatments free while also restructuring the U.S. pharmaceutical drug industry to lower prices.

The research, as reported by Vox, shows that more than 70 percent of voters who participated in the survey said they would prefer a candidate who supports making COVID-19 treatments and vaccines free to everybody.

Two-thirds of voters across those states said they would be more likely to support a candidate who favors various reforms such as allowing Medicare to directly negotiate the price of medicines. They also favor government manufacturing of generic versions of expensive drugs, and revoking companies’ patents for high-cost medications.

“In a sense, this is the whole drug pricing dilemma in one act,” Larry Levitt, executive vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in the article. “We want innovation and new drugs that can save lives, but we also want lower prices.”

Pharmaceutical companies’ most common argument against price constraints is the need to fund research and development of new breakthrough therapies. However, Americans are more sensitive to health care costs than ever due to the pandemic and its economic consequences.

“If drug companies save us from this horrible pandemic, they will be heroes, and it will be very hard politically to go after their prices,” added Levitt. “But if the drug companies get too greedy in pricing COVID-19 vaccines or treatments, it could come back to bite them.”

Have your views about drug prices changed since the start of the pandemic? Share your thoughts with Voices for Affordable Health.