If you thought prescription drug prices would not remain a key issue in the presidential campaign, think again.
A new poll finds that 91 percent of voters believe it’s important for presidential candidates to hold down rising prescription drug costs. And 45 percent say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who addresses medicine costs, according to the poll, which earlier this month queried more than 2,200 registered voters in Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina.
“Evidence continues to show that for candidates and voters on both sides of the aisle, unsustainable drug pricing is an important campaign issue that can’t be ignored. … This is a pocketbook issue for American families,” said John Rother, who heads the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing. The nonprofit, whose members include insurers, employers, and consumer groups, sponsored the survey.
The findings come amid ongoing furor over the cost of medicines, some of which has been stoked by reports of drug makers buying products and then quickly jacking up the prices by tremendous amounts. A recent notable example involved Martin Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals, which purchased a 63-year-old, anti-infective medicine this summer and then raised the price from $13.55 to $700 a pill.
Hillary Clinton seized on this episode to decry “price gouging,” and Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who is her rival for the Democratic nomination, began probing price hikes for generic drugs a year ago. Meanwhile, various House and Senate lawmakers plan to hold hearings to focus on Turing as well as Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
Here are some other findings from the survey:
- Nearly 80 percent of voters say the price of some new prescription drugs costing $100,000 or more for a year of treatment is unacceptable and jeopardizes innovation in the health care system. And 67 percent believe that if prices for medicines continue to rise, the government should ensure those increases are limited.
- Meanwhile, 86 percent think it’s a good idea to tell consumers about the cost and effectiveness of new drugs compared with existing medicines.
- Among voters who regularly take prescription drugs, 6 in 10 say the price rose since they first took it, and 3 in 10 Americans have not taken a drug prescribed to them before due to the cost.
- Sixty-seven percent want the FDA to review and approve low-cost prescription drugs more quickly, while 70 percent support increased transparency in how drugs are priced by requiring drug makers to publish research and development, marketing, and sales costs.