Congress Should Make Lowering Drug Prices a Top Priority, POLITICO-Harvard Poll Says

Oct. 2, 2017 – According to a recent poll conducted by POLITICO and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 40 percent of those surveyed said that lowering prescription drug prices should be Congress’ number one priority for the remainder of 2017. Just 26 percent of the public stated that repealing and replacing Obamacare should be a top congressional priority this year.

Although 88 percent of respondents are in favor of direct drug price negotiations between Medicare and drug companies to achieve lower drug prices for seniors, that support drops substantially (to just 38 percent) if one of the results of that process is companies choosing not to sell certain drugs to seniors through Medicare, stated the September 2017 POLITICO-Harvard report, “The Public’s Views of Tax Reform and Other Domestic Issues.” (POLITICO-Harvard-Poll-September-2017-Tax-Reform-and-Other-Domestic-Issues)

“If accurate, this poll portends trouble for the life sciences industry and its marketing partners,” said Coalition for Healthcare Communication Executive Director John Kamp. “Clearly, the Republican-controlled Congress is more likely to protect pricing flexibility for medicine companies but these data give political cover for members of both parties to limit what companies can charge for their products, and make it easier to limit advertising and promotion.”

Meanwhile, Kamp said, the more immediate danger to drug marketing companies is the idea of paying for tax reductions by reducing the deductibility of all marketing costs. “Contact your Senators and House Member today, if you have not already done so,” he said. [For assistance with message points and contact information, contact John Kamp at: jkamp@cohealthcom.org.]

When considering whether importation of drugs approved by countries with standards that differ from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (e.g., Canada and European countries) could be part of the solution for lowering drug prices, the Americans polled in this survey were split, with 51 percent favoring this option and 42 percent opposing it.

The pollsters also queried respondents about how they would characterize addiction to prescription painkillers or opioids. Slightly less than half of those surveyed (45 percent) view this issue as a national crisis (which is what it has been deemed by President Donald Trump), and 41 percent believe it is a serious problem but not a crisis.

Answers to questions about general healthcare policy showed that 51 percent of respondents are in favor of trying again to develop an alternative plan to the Affordable Care Act,  and 45 percent expressed a desire to move on to other issues. When asked about a single-payer system, 45 percent were in favor and 47 percent were opposed; support for a national plan like Medicare was 66 percent, with 28 percent opposed.

When asked if they would still support alternative plans if their own taxes would increase, support for single-payer dropped to 31 percent and support for a national plan dropped to 44 percent.

Eight in 10 Americans surveyed said they would support allowing people between the ages of 55 and 64 to have the choice of purchasing Medicare coverage, and 72 percent of respondents stated they would favor work requirements for low-income, able-bodied adults without children in order to receive Medicaid benefits, according to the poll report.