October 13, 2021

Should the government negotiate lower drug prices? Most Americans say 'yes.'

Daily Briefing

    Most Americans, regardless of political party or age, support allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices both for Medicare beneficiaries and those covered by private health plans, according to a recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

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    Most Americans support government negotiation of drug prices

    For the poll, KFF surveyed 1,146 American adults from Sept. 23 to Oct. 4. They found that 83% of the general public, including 92% of Democrats, 81% of independents, 76% of Republicans, and 83% of all seniors, initially favored allowing the government to negotiate drug prices.

    KFF then presented the arguments for and against the policy and found that opinions on the policy remained virtually unchanged, with 82% of the public, including 95% of Democrats, 82% of independents, 71% of Republicans, and 82% of all seniors, saying they still favored the policy.

    The vast majority of respondents found the argument, "Those in favor say 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," to be convincing.

    Meanwhile, only a third of respondents found the argument, "Those opposed say it would have the government too involved and will lead to fewer new drugs being available in the future," convincing.

    These findings represent a change in public sentiment since KFF's June poll, which found more attitude change after hearing assertions that prescription drug price negotiation would result in less research and development or limited access to newer prescriptions.

    In addition, 93% of respondents said that even if drug prices were lowered, "drug companies would still make enough money to invest in the research needed to develop new drugs," the poll found. And just 6% said that "drug companies need to charge high prices in order to fund the innovative research necessary for developing new drugs."

    The poll also found that just 48% of respondents have confidence that congressional Democrats will do the right thing for the country regarding drug prices, while 46% said they have confidence in President Joe Biden and 33% said they have confidence in congressional Republicans. (Gomez, Kaiser Health News, 10/12; Sullivan, The Hill, 10/12)

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