"Elected officials who align themselves with this unpopular and greedy industry, against the will of voters, do so at their own political risk," said one patient advocate.
Republican lawmakers who support Big Pharma's efforts to block Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices do so at their own peril, said an advocacy group Tuesday as it released polling data that shows the U.S. public overwhelmingly opposes drug companies' scheme.
Along with Hart Research Associates and GS Strategy Group, Patients for Affordable Drugs Now (P4ADNOW) polled 1,000 likely voters from August 23-27 and found that respondents opposed the numerous lawsuits the pharmaceutical industry has filed to block implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act's provision allowing Medicare to negotiate.
Seventy-two percent of voters said the law should be implemented, and 77% said they didn't believe the industry's claim that it's suing because of concerns about the provision's constitutionality—saying they think companies are only concerned it will reduce their profits, which reached a combined $110 billion last year for the eight largest pharma firms.
"The American people understand the lawsuits to block lower drug prices through Medicare negotiation are not about looking after the best interests of patients and consumers, but about the industry seeking to restore its unilateral power to dictate prices of brand name drugs without limits in the United States," said David Mitchell, founder of P4ADNOW. "The lawsuits are a naked assault against the will of the American people, and we stand with the people."
Ninety percent of respondents said lowering drug prices should be an important or a top priority for Congress, and 53% said they had an unfavorable view of drug companies after learning of the lawsuits they have filed against the Biden administration. Eighty-four percent supported allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower costs for patients.
The poll was released less than a month after the Biden administration announced the first 10 prescriptions that will be subject to the negotiations, drawing applause from Democratic lawmakers and patient advocates.
Republicans such as Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Crapo of Idaho—who received a combined $468,900 in campaign donations from pharma companies and their political action committees from 2017-22—have joined the industry in attacking the law, claiming it will "stunt the development of lifesaving treatments and cures," as Blackburn said last month.
Only 18% of voters included in the poll agreed that the law will harm research and development in the industry, while 67% believed drug companies will still be able to make huge profits and find new treatments and cures for diseases.
"Efforts in Congress to undermine implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act fly in the face of the wishes of the overwhelming majority of voters—84% of whom support the law, including 93% of Democrats, 78% of independents and 80% of Republicans," said Mitchell. "Elected officials who align themselves with this unpopular and greedy industry, against the will of voters, do so at their own political risk."
Merith Basey, executive director of P4ADNOW, noted that pharmaceutical companies draw huge profits in other high-income countries, despite the fact that they negotiate drug prices with federal agencies working on behalf of patients.
"Those nations have better health outcomes, longer life expectancy, and for lower cost," said Basey. "It's in the United States that the drug industry seeks to fleece patients with unlimited pricing power."