Pharma's PR problem: 53% of Americans blame pursuit of profits for high drug prices
- In a new joint poll by Stat News and the Harvard School of Public Health, over half (53%) of Americans indicated they felt high drug prices were attributable to excess pharmaceutical profit-seeking. Respondents generally held an overall negative perspective on the pharmaceutical industry.
- In contrast, in a 2003 Harris Poll only 42% of Americans attributed high drug prices to excess profits.
- Additionally, 15% of respondents felt the costs of marketing and advertising drugs were responsible for driving prices higher. The poll, which was conducted from November 4th to November 8th via telephone, included 1,023 adults.
There is a general air of public discontent surrounding the biopharma industry and its pricing strategies. Politicians, such as Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), have picked up on this sentiment and vocalized it in their campaigning. The negative perception of the drug industry even extends beyond the typical Democratic demographic. Many of the Republicans polled also had negative views of current drug-pricing practices.
Perhaps disturbingly for drug advertisers, respondents simply didn't seem to be buying the narrative that drug price controls would stifle innovation. Over half thought Medicare price controls or price negotiation would not result in fewer drugs developed. Many individuals, including Senator Sanders, support full disclosure of R&D costs, so connecting the dots between drug prices and input costs can be more straightforward. The industry, however, claims this kind of transparency would be misleading as costs are not linear.
In response to these findings, Robert Zirkelbach, a senior vice president at Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) suggested these negative responses from polled respondents were driven by increased out-of-pocket costs, as well as a general atmosphere of public negativity around drug prices.