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Roughly 8 in 10 Americans believe that prices for prescription drugs are unreasonable and support various ideas to lower costs, such as allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug makers and enforcing price caps on high-priced medicines for certain illnesses such as cancer, according to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Moreover, two-thirds of Americans are in favor of creating an independent group to oversee prices, 71 percent believe they should be able to import medicines from Canada, and nearly 9 in 10 support the notion that drug makers should be required to disclose information on how prices are set.


The survey, which queried more than 1,200 Americans, was conducted in mid-September, shortly after controversy erupted over Mylan Pharmaceuticals and its pricing strategy for EpiPen. But outrage has hardly been confined to any one type of company or treatment.

Pricing concerns have spread to generics, which are traditionally lower-cost alternatives to brand-name medicines, as well as new drugs for hard-to-treat diseases, notably hepatitis C and some forms of cancer. And prices for some older medicines, such as multiple sclerosis treatments, are also climbing.

The issue has become so highly charged that drug prices are a talking point in the presidential campaign, and federal and state lawmakers have introduced legislation to contain rising costs, which 77 percent of Americans believe are unreasonable. This is up from 72 percent a year ago, according to Kaiser.


The survey, in fact, canvassed Americans on their reactions to some of the proposals — old and new. For instance, 66 percent are in favor of creating an independent group that would oversee pricing, a notion that Hillary Clinton recently proposed.

The survey also found that 86 percent of Americans believe drug makers should be required to disclose data used to set prices. In Washington, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill earlier this month, just as the survey began, to disclose costs and justify certain price hikes. More than a dozen states have introduced similar bills, although only Vermont has passed such a law.

Yet there is less enthusiasm for other notions that have been floated.

Only 47 percent of those surveyed favor eliminating prescription drug ads, which gained considerable attention last year when the American Medical Association publicly called for a ban on such advertising. And only 42 percent support any policy that would encourage consumers to purchase lower-cost drugs by requiring them to pay more for similar, but more expensive medicines.

Paradoxically, few Americans say they have trouble paying for medicines. Fifty-five percent reported taking prescription drugs and, of those, 73 percent say affordability is not an issue. But 42 percent who say their health is fair or poor did report having difficulty. And 37 percent of those currently taking four or more medications say cost is a problem, compared to 19 percent taking less than four medications.

Despite their concerns over cost, 56 percent of Americans say that prescription drugs developed over the past 20 years have generally improved lives.

  • I have been working in healthcare for 35 years now as a practicing pharmacist in many role and the high cost of drugs and Americans perception is nothing new.
    My hospital staff and I used speak to community groups and ask them “How many people own stock in drug companies?” then follow up with “How many people think the cost of drugs are to high”. Some people raised there hand both times and we would proceed into a discussion. The problem today, is that drugs are a lot more expensive with cancer treatments running up to $100k+/year and EpiPENs costing over $600. I spoke with physicians in a number of health systems and there is always a discussion about “what is fair market profit margin?”. Everyone believes industry should generate some profit, especially if the Value of drug/device/diagnostic, can be measured in patient care models, but not the amount they are today. Industry doesn’t understand or even work with customers to understand the Value Models in Patient Care that Payers or even Physicians/IDNs/Health Care Systems are using. They don’t hire people with the knowledge, hence, Medicare getting involved in Value Based Pricing/Negotiating Prices, etc. Some PBMs are already negotiating Value Based Pricing for some expensive drugs.
    Lastly, unless CMS hires people that have been involved in negotiating prices in the healthcare industry, they won’t be as successful as they need to be. It is time to for everyone to hire some experts and let them lead the changes occuring in healthcare or we are going to continue to see healthcare costs rise, not only for drugs.

    • Until these changes occur my advice is to get the best insurance coverage with the best drug plan you can afford as a matter of self protection. I am a diabetic, hypertensive with psoriasis. Thus far in 2016 my drug costs are $89,211.23, of which $82898.40 was covered my health insurance plan.

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