April 10, 2005

Pharma & Healthcare Surveys

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a poll that revealed that:

Prescription drugs play a part in half of all adults’ daily lives, and most agree that these medications have a positive value to society. Majorities say that prescription drugs have had a positive impact on the health and quality of life of Americans in general (78%) and have made a “big difference” in the lives of people with chronic conditions such as heart disease (72%) and cancer (63%).

Despite recent news attention to prescription drug safety following the recall of the drug Vioxx, most Americans feel confident about the safety of prescription drugs sold in the United States (80%) and similar shares feel confident in the FDA’s ability to ensure this safety (77%).

Despite the positive benefits provided by the drugs that people use, 70% of the 1200 people polled said that "Pharmaceutical companies are most concerned about making profits, and they put profits ahead of people".

Additionally, on issues of trustworthiness, pharmaceutical companies were ranked Seventh in a list of Nine industies and less trustworthy than HMOs but more trustworthy than oil companies and tobacco companies.

Additionally, a survey was published in January on "Health Care Agenda for the New Congress"

This survey captures the public's attitudes regarding the health care agenda for Bush's second term and the new Congress in 2005.

Here are more details from these two reports:

Views On The Pharmaceutical Industry

Understanding the public’s views on the pharmaceutical industry is important because these views can influence policy preferences. Although the public is generally positive about the value of prescription drugs to society, they have much more mixed views of pharmaceutical companies themselves. One-half of adults have an unfavorable opinion of pharmaceutical companies with drug companies ranking ahead of oil and tobacco companies in favorability, but behind many other groups such as hospitals, airlines and banks.

And while nine in ten (91%) adults say that drug companies make an important contribution by researching and developing new drugs, beliefs about the motivation behind drug companies’ work are less positive. Seven in ten (70%) agree that drug companies put profits ahead of people, while one-quarter (24%) agree that companies are more concerned with saving lives and improving quality of life than profits.

Ratings of pharmaceutical companies’ customer service have been on a decline since 1997 when almost eight in ten (79%) people said drug companies generally do a “good job” serving consumers. In 2004, for first time, more people said drug companies generally do a “bad job” (48%) than a “good job” (44%) of serving consumers.

Views On Drug Costs

The public views pharmaceutical companies as major contributors to rising health care costs. In 2004, seven in ten (69%) adults say that high profits made by drug companies are a “very important” reason behind rising health care costs, and almost a quarter (24%) say drug company profits are the most important reason, ahead of malpractice lawsuits (20%) and greed and waste in the system (20%).

Furthermore, an argument sometimes put forth by the pharmaceutical industry that prescription drugs decrease overall medical costs by reducing the need for other services does not resonate with the majority of adults: fewer than a quarter (23%) agree with this view, compared with six in ten (59%) who agree that prescription drugs increase overall medical costs (11% do not think prescription drugs affect the nation’s medical costs).

Most of the public do not believe that research and development drive the cost of prescription drugs, instead three-quarters (74%) say drug company profit margins or marketing costs are the largest contributors to the price of prescription drugs and eight in ten (81%) say that drug costs are not justified because companies charge more for medications than necessary.

Prescription Drug Advertising

The vast majority of adults (90%) have seen or heard advertisements for prescription medications, but many are skeptical of the information provided. Fewer than two in ten (18%) say they can trust what pharmaceutical companies say in their ads “most of the time”, a much smaller share than in 1997 when 33% said they could trust drug company ads “most of the time”.

Despite this skepticism, many people are paying attention to these ads. Almost two-thirds (64%) of people who have seen prescription drug ads say that these advertisements generally provide useful information at least some of the time. One-quarter (26%) of people who have seen drug ads say they have talked to a doctor about a medication as a result of seeing an ad and more than half of these people said the doctor prescribed the particular medication.

Government Regulation of the Drug Industry

The public’s concerns about prescription drug prices and drug company profits translate into support for many proposals to control drug costs. For example, in 2005, almost two-thirds (65%) of the public say there should be more government regulation of prescription drug prices, and 70% of these people (or 46% of all adults) continue to support more regulation of prices even it leads to less research and development of new drugs.

And, in November 2004, nearly three-quarters (73%) of adults supported the idea of allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs imported from Canada and eight in ten (80%) favored changing the law to allow the government to use its buying power to negotiate lower drug prices for people on Medicare. The argument that these policies would lead drug companies to do less research and development does not resonate with most Americans: 70% disagree that importing drugs and 64% disagree that negotiation would affect development of new medications.

Another survey recently completed is:

Health Care Agenda for the New Congress

This survey captures the public's attitudes regarding the health care agenda for Bush's second term and the new Congress in 2005. It assesses the relative priority placed on health-care concerns by the American public and also provides insight into public opinion on key issues likely to face the new Congress, such as implementing the Medicare drug law, controlling health care costs, reducing the nation’s uninsured population and reforming the malpractice litigation system. This survey of almost 1,400 adults was conducted in November after the Presidential and Congressional elections.

For Full Reports:
Views On Prescription Drugs And The Pharmaceutical Industry

Health Care Agenda for the New Congress


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