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Nine in 10 Americans are worried drug prices will go UP due to COVID-19 

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The majority of Americans believe the costs of their insurance, drugs and health care will rise in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a new poll reveals. 

A Gallup and West Health poll found that 55 percent of Americans are ‘very concerned’ that the pharmaceutical industry will take advantage of the pandemic to hike drug prices. In total, nine in 10 Americans are at least somewhat worried drug prices will surge.  

Nearly 80 percent are worried insurance companies will inflate premiums and 84 percent are somewhat or very concerned the price of seeing their doctors will go up. 

Coronavirus was an opportunity for the US to gain citizen trust – but the result has been quite the opposite, the new poll suggests.  

Nine in 10 Americans are at least somewhat concerned that drug prices will go up in the wake of the pandemic as pharmaceutical companies take advantage of COVID-19 to hike prices

Nine in 10 Americans are at least somewhat concerned that drug prices will go up in the wake of the pandemic as pharmaceutical companies take advantage of COVID-19 to hike prices

Before the pandemic hit the US, Americans were already so afraid of medical bills that the majority avoided health care, a previous Gallup poll found.  

Americans pay more than people in any other nation for their medications, with the average person spending about $1,200 on drugs. 

During his 2016 campaign, President Trump vowed to take on big pharmaceutical companies and negotiate down drug prices on behalf of Medicaid and Medicare patients. 

As his 2020 campaign ramps up, Trump has credited himself with reductions to drug prices.  

Yet 23 percent of the more than 1,000 survey respondents in the Gallup poll said they had been unable to afford their medications at least once in the past year and two thirds said the costs of their prescriptions have climbed since 2017, Trump’s first year in office. 

Less than a third of those surveyed felt that President Trump has made a ‘fair amount’ or a ‘great deal’ of progress in lowering drug prices. 

Neither the Trump administration’s response to coronavirus, nor the pandemic itself instill much confidence that more progress will be made in the near-future. 

More than half of Americans said they were 'very concerned' about drug prices in the coming months, with worries more common among Democrats than Republicans

More than half of Americans said they were ‘very concerned’ about drug prices in the coming months, with worries more common among Democrats than Republicans 

More than 40% of people in the US were concerned the costs of insurance and healthcare will rise after the pandemic

More than 40% of people in the US were concerned the costs of insurance and healthcare will rise after the pandemic 

Only nine percent of Americans rated the US response to coronavirus as ‘excellent.’ More than a third said that the response has been poor. 

As COVID-19 case numbers and death tolls ticked upward in the majority of US states this year, doctors and scientists scrambled to throw anything in the proverbial medicine cabinet at the problem. 

Common antibiotics like azithromycin have been tried as treatments for COVID-19, alone or alongside other drugs, as have steroids, myriad antivirals, anti-inflammatory drugs, cancer drugs, immune therapies, and much, much more. 

In addition, caring for very sick coronavirus patients requires putting them on ventilators, which requires giving them anesthetics and painkillers to keep the live-saving intubation from being unbearable. 

Perceptions of the US coronavirus response vary widely based on political party, income and education level, but approval was low, with the majority saying the response was fair or poor

Perceptions of the US coronavirus response vary widely based on political party, income and education level, but approval was low, with the majority saying the response was fair or poor

As a result, there are shortages of at least 25 medications as a direct result of the pandemic, according to a GoodRx.com analysis. 

Plus, more raw materials involved in drugs are falling into short supply. 

The rise in demand for these drugs and ingredients is driving up prices, too, and Americans are taking note. 

On the whole, 88 percent of Americans – including 91 percent of Democrats, 87 percent of Independents and 89 percent of Republicans say they support the idea of the US government negotiating the prices of COVID-19 treatments with manufacturers to hopefully ensure the drugs are accessible. 

Currently, only remdesivir has emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19 (after the FDA revoked emergency approval for hydroxychloroquine). 

Nearly all Americans support government intervention to negotiate affordable COVID-19 treatments with drug makers

Nearly all Americans support government intervention to negotiate affordable COVID-19 treatments with drug makers 

Its manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, donated 1.5 million doses of the drug.

But that supply is expected to run out by next month and a course of treatment is predicted to cost about $4,460. 

That’s a bargain compared to some earlier estimates (which were earmarked at as high as $30,000 per patient, according to Fierce Pharma), but still an untenable cost for many Americans, 14 percent of whom report foregoing treatment when they developed coronavirus symptoms, for fear they couldn’t afford it. 

President Trump signed a bill into law to ensure that coronavirus testing is free, and expanding Medicaid, but the legislation does not provide free treatment. 

Earlier this week, the announced that a coronavirus vaccine – when one is available – will be free to vulnerable people, including the elderly, those with underlying conditions and front line workers if they cannot afford it. 

No such promises have been made about treatments. 

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