Voters Fear Specialty Drug Pricing

As the Food and Drug Administration prepares to make a decision on an updated and potentially more expensive version of Sovaldi this Friday, Morning Consult polling shows voters are most concerned about the price of prescription drugs.

In a Morning Consult poll from October, 35 percent of voters said price is the most important thing to them when it comes to filling a prescription, while 29 percent said location. Twenty-nine percent said location. Twelve percent said customer service was a key factor for them. Only eight percent of respondents said their doctors’ recommendation was the most important factor in their choice of prescription drugs. This poll was conducted from October 3-5, 2014, among a national sample of 1,587 registered voters.

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The concern over price also applies to specialty drugs like Sovaldi, a Hepatitis C treatment. In July, a Morning Consult poll sponsored by the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing found 82 percent of voters said the $84,000 price tag for Sovaldi was unacceptable.  The poll was conducted from July 9-11, 2014, among a national sample of 2,010 likely 2014 voters.

Voters also said they are worried about needing these kind of specialty drugs in the future.

The poll found 57 percent of likely voters were very concerned they and their families would be unable to afford these drugs in the future if they should ever need them while 35 percent said they were somewhat concerned. Among those polled who said they were in excellent health or in very good health, 50 percent from both categories said they were concerned about being able to afford specialty drugs. Among those who identified as being in fair health, 68 percent said they were concerned. Among respondents who made more than $100,000, 47 percent said they were very concerned about being able to afford specialty drugs while only 41 percent said they were somewhat concerned. For those making between $50,000 and $100,000, 54 percent said they were very concerned. Sixty-four percent of people who made under $50,000 said they were very concerned.

Besides worrying about the possibility of needing to afford these drugs, voters are also concerned about who will feel the brunt of the cost. The poll found that 31 percent of voters believe individuals and families who purchase their own insurance will be impacted the most by the cost of specialty drugs like Sovaldi. Twenty-two percent of voters said they believe seniors in the Medicare program will be impacted most while 20 percent said Medicaid recipients will be. Eighteen percent said taxpayers in general will be most impacted. Only three percent of voters said employers would be most impacted.

The poll also found 86 percent of voters believed drug companies should get a fair return on their investment in drug development but need to price it in a way that’s affordable.

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But while they may not be satisfied with the price of specialty drugs, voters are decently satisfied with the price of generic and brand name prescription drugs. Eighty-two percent of generic drug buyers said they’re satisfied with the price of their drugs, according to the poll. Among brand name drug buyers, 75 percent said they were satisfied with the price of their drugs.

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However, voters are uncertain about the pricing of prescription drugs. In the poll, 64 percent of voters said they don’t think there is enough transparency in the prescription drug industry with how they calculate the price of their products. Among voters, 38 percent said the reason prescription drug prices are so high is because of a combination of drug company profiting, prescription drug advertising, regulation of the drug approval process and the cost of researching and developing drugs. Thirty two percent said the main reason is because of drug company profits.

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