The August Kaiser Health Tracking Poll reveals most Americans favor legislation that curbs the cost of prescription drugs. Although 72% of Americans say paying for prescriptions is within their means, 72% also say the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable. And while 62% of the public acknowledge that drugs developed in the last year have improved lives, 73% say drug companies make too much profit and 74% are more concerned with profits than patients.

This study found four cost-saving laws that over 70% of Americans favor implementing. These include:

  • Requiring drug companies to reveal how they set prices (86%)

  • Allowing the government to negotiate prescription costs for Medicare patients (83%)

  • Limiting the price that drug companies can set for high-cost drugs essential for care (76%)

  • Giving Americans the option to buy drugs imported from Canada (72%)

The survey revealed that 42% of the public hold a favorable view of pharmaceutical companies—which is comparable to the rating given to oil companies and health insurers, but significantly lagging that of doctors (78%). Furthermore, the survey presented that public opinion of the ACA has remained consistent over the last year, with 44% being in favor of the law and 42% unfavorable.

Our Take: As this survey presents, public perception of the pharmaceutical industry is relatively low.  The correlation between low trust and high willingness to implement legislation in the industry reveals the importance of transparency in all areas of healthcare.

Pharma has done a notoriously poor job at educating the public at-large about the benefits of treatment versus the cost of a pill or injection. Nearly every week we’ve been writing about drug costs not because the story is new, but because the media continues to cover it. Unless the public is made aware of the costs and benefits associated with each portion of their care, Pharma should be worried about a backlash beyond PBMs and other payers—that is, from the consumer. Especially as we approach an election year.

The top ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), used the bully pulpit Thursday to call on lawmakers to investigate rising prices. 

“I have urged my Republican colleagues—privately, publicly, and in any way I can—to investigate this issue,” said Cummings. “Unfortunately, congressional Republicans have taken no significant action to help consumers who are facing increasing prices for critical life-saving drugs.”

According to The Hill, Cummings and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have introduced legislation to extend to generic drugs a requirement that companies pay a rebate to Medicaid when drug prices rise faster than inflation.

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