As Congress battles over government drug price negotiation, new poll finds strong support on both sides of the aisle
More than 80% of Americans “strongly favor” or “somewhat favor” allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies, including 92% of Democrats and 76% of Republicans polled by the Kaiser Family Foundation late last month and earlier this month.
The poll released Tuesday morning comes as Congress remains deadlocked on how to find a way to give drug price negotiating power to Medicare, as part of an effort to help pay for a larger social spending bill from the Democrats. With only a slim majority in the Senate, and Pelosi’s planned vote deadline coming up quickly at the end of the month, Democrats seem to be repeating their past failures, finding holes in their bucket of support.
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, where Merck, Novartis and J&J are based or have US headquarters,, both seem, at best, to be on the fence with drug pricing reforms. According to Politico, Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat who likely won’t back drug reforms, said that Sinema opposes the current drug price reform ideas, although Sinema’s spokesperson tried to walk back those comments.
But the KFF poll of about 1,150 US adults, including 474 adults ages 65 and older, may bring some solace to Democrats who thought their support for drug price negotiations would hurt them at the polls.
The poll found that 84% of respondents found the following statement “very convincing” or “somewhat convincing” that “negotiation is needed because Americans pay higher prices than people in other countries, many can’t afford their prescriptions, and drug company profits are too high.”
The pharmaceutical industry has long maintained that allowing the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices in any capacity will be nothing short of crippling for the entire industry, leading to less R&D and fewer new drugs. The CBO has warned of almost 60 fewer new drugs over three decades with a major Medicare drug price negotiations bill. And curiously, about 1 in 5 people surveyed on both sides of the aisle said they trust the biopharma industry on drug prices.
But KFF polling found that only 6% of those surveyed said they think “drug companies need to charge high prices in order to fund the innovative research necessary for developing new drugs,” while 93% said “that even if U.S. prices were lower, drug companies would still make enough money to invest in the research needed to develop new drugs.” This view is consistent across partisanship and age groups, KFF said.
Industry group PhRMA quickly criticized the KFF poll on Tuesday, saying in a statement:
It’s unfortunate when a respected organization is compelled to put out a misleading poll that contradicts years of its own nonpartisan research. This poll doesn’t present the whole debate and relies on straw-man arguments to steer the public toward a desired outcome. As Kaiser has shown for years, the public overwhelmingly rejects government price-setting when they learn it threatens access to medicines and future innovation.