Consumers Believe the Government Should Step in to Curb Drug Prices


Most consumers, according to news reports, want the government to step in to curb the rising prices of prescription drugs. In fact, according to one survey released Thursday, over 75% of Americans believe that the costs of prescription drugs are “unreasonable.”

Large majorities of Americans are in favor of policy changes that would provide the government with more power to keep the costs of medications down. Among the suggested policies is the creation of an independent body that would review the prices for prescription medications. Sixty-six percent of survey respondents said they liked the idea.

Seventy-one percent of the people surveyed also said they were in favor of permitting the import of drugs from Canada – a country where drug prices are lower. Most respondents also supported capping the amounts drug-makers can charge for certain expensive medications. These medicines are often used to treat cancer and hepatitis – two conditions that require pricier treatments.

According to the survey, the highest level of support backed the idea of permitting the federal government to negotiate reduced medicine prices for Medicare patients, and mandating that drug manufacturers publicly share information on how the prices are set. Currently, Medicare, which spends over $110 billion annually on medicines, is not permitted to negotiate the prices on drugs.

The Kaiser survey and poll, which was performed on both landlines and cellphones in mid-September, reached out to 1,204 adults. The poll and survey recorded a margin error of three percentage points. The survey results were released amid controversy over the unprecedented increase in the cost of the EpiPen anti-allergy type devices, which sell for $600 for a pack of two auto injectors.

However, Mylan, which manufactures the EpiPens, is just one of many drug companies that have fell out of favor with customers and the US Congress for their high prices. Despite outrage from consumers, nothing has changed in terms of policy.

Unlike many countries in the world, the US does not place restraints on the prices charged and set by drug manufacturers. Reductions in the costs of drugs come from insurance companies and similar payers, both who negotiate with pharmaceutical firms.

An article published just last month by the Journal of the American Medical Association network indicated that the price of U.S. prescription drugs exceeds other drug costs worldwide. The higher costs are driven by the prices of brand-name medications, which has continued to increase in recent times, surpassing the consumer price index.

In 2013, prescription drug spending per capita in the US was $858, compared with the median of $400 reported for 19 industrialized nations. Authors of the report said that increased prices result from what the market will bear rather than the high costs associated with developing a drug.

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