Poll: Americans’ views conflicted on curbing drug prices

March 20, 2018 – A new poll from POLITICO and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that most Americans—Republicans and Democrats alike—want the government to rein in drug prices, but that public support drops when respondents consider possible negative consequences of such action.

In the poll—a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults—90% of respondents said they want the federal government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower prices of prescription drugs for seniors on Medicare. But that support dropped to 42% when respondents considered that, because of the lower prices, some companies might stop selling certain drugs to seniors on Medicare. Eighty percent supported limiting prices of drugs sold to state health programs, but only 38% favored the idea if it meant pharmaceutical companies would invest less in research and development. The conflicting views help explain why lawmakers find it easier to speak out against drug prices rather than take action to curb costs, according to a March 14, 2018 POLITICO article.

“This only suggests that this [taking on drug costs] is a tempting issue for political people in both parties because it’s so popular,” said Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at Harvard Chan School and designer of the poll, in the article. “They’re going to find it much more controversial if they can’t answer the question of how you protect consumers from the potential downside.”

The poll also found most Americans remain deeply divided about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Overall, half said the ACA is working about the same as a year ago, 31% said it’s working worse, and 12% said it’s working better. Among those who think the law is worsening, Republicans mostly blame congressional Democrats, while Democrats blame President Trump and the Republicans.

In addition to healthcare topics, the poll includes views on the Trump administration’s immigration and infrastructure policy agendas.

Read the POLITICO article: POLITICO-Harvard poll: Americans worry that government action on drug prices could backfire