Public thinks Rx prices are 'unreasonable'

August 1, 2003

Pharmaceutical Representative

Most people continue to think drug prices are unreasonably high and should be controlled by the government.

Most people continue to think drug prices are unreasonably high and should be controlled by the government, according to a new survey by Rochester, NY-based Harris Interactive. But the number of people who think this way has declined modestly.

The survey, conducted over the telephone with a nationwide sample of 1,020 adults, found that 57% thinks drug prices are unreasonably high and 32% thinks they are somewhat high. Additionally, 54% thinks hospital charges are unreasonably high, and 43% believes doctors' bills are unreasonable.

Reasons for high prices

Only 23% of the public believes that the high cost of research and development is the biggest contributor to drug prices. More people think that profit margins (42%) and marketing and advertising costs (30%) contribute more to high drug prices.

These numbers have not changed much since 2000, but the percentage of respondents who believe medical research is the principal driver of prices has declined marginally (from 28% in 2000 and 26% in 2002 to 23% now).

The survey found that the public places a high value on medical research and does not want to see it cut. Half of the 56% of respondents who favor price controls say they would oppose price controls "If this meant that pharmaceutical companies substantially reduced their spending on medical research …"

However, only a minority of the public (44%) believes the argument that drug companies would spend less on research if the government controlled prices. And only 37% believes that the pharmaceutical industry would develop fewer drugs if the government imposed price controls.

Furthermore, these minorities have not increased over the last three years. According to Harris, this means the pharmaceutical industry has not been successful in persuading more people to accept these arguments against government price controls. PR

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