STAT and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Release New Poll

December 1, 2015
Contact: Julie Meyer / SKDKnickerbocker
[email protected] / 202-464-6602 

STAT and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Release New Poll

Three Fourths of Americans Believe Drug Prices Too High

December 1, 2015 — Boston — A new poll released by STAT and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds widespread dissatisfaction with the pharmaceutical industry and its drug pricing patterns. More than three quarters of the American public, 76 percent, report that brand-name prescription drug prices are too high today. A majority of Americans believe that government intervention is needed to reduce prices.

At a time when drug companies are in the news for upping the prices of life-saving therapies overnight, the American people have lost faith in pharmaceutical companies. About half, or 49 percent, of Americans believe that drug companies are doing a good job — down from 79 percent two decades ago — and 41 percent believe they are doing a bad job. A majority of Americans (53 percent) believe that the driving force behind rising drug prices is a pharmaceutical company's desire for profit. When presented with real-world cases of recent skyrocketing pricing decisions, more than 90 percent of Americans believe that the companies acted unreasonably.

When asked if the federal government should intervene in the companies' decisions about prices, many Americans were amenable to the idea of the government, through its Medicare program, negotiating prices on prescription drugs: 69 percent of the public favored that option. When this idea was presented as price controls, support fell, but 55 percent still supported price controls.

The poll found that as the 2016 presidential election heats up and pharmaceutical drug pricing figures into the campaign, neither party has an insurmountable advantage over the other in the fight for public opinion. Democrats are believed to be the party that better handles this issue by a margin of 39 percent to the Republicans' 30 percent. Within the Democratic race for the nomination, it is thought that Hillary Clinton would do a better job than Bernie Sanders, her main rival, at slowing the growth of prices by a margin of 44 percent to Sanders' 34 percent. However, the belief that the price of prescription drugs is unreasonable is one that cuts across party lines, with 80 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans believing them to be unreasonable.

This poll was conducted by STAT and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Telephone interviews of 1,023 adults were conducted by research firm SRSS from November 4-8, 2015, in both Spanish and English. The margin of error is ±3.6 percentage points.

This poll is part of a monthly collaboration between STAT and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The polls each month seek to explore emerging issues in health and medicine and gauge Americans' views on the issues. The first poll, released November 9, examined how Americans regard e-cigarettes. 


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