Don’t read too much into the pharma reputation study

KEY TAKEAWAY: Surpising, was how STST news referred to the pharma reputation study that seemed to indicate that pharma’s reputation is intact.  Those patients, and caregivers, who experience the damage of high drug prices know first hand how the costs of certain drugs can drive them into bankruptcy.

A recent Harris poll showed that “only nine percent of U.S. consumers believe pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies put patients over profits, while only 16 percent believe health insurance companies do, according to a Harris Poll study released today. Meanwhile, 36 percent of U.S. adults believe health care providers (such as doctors and nurses) put patients over profits, compared to hospitals (23%).

At the same time a smaller fraction, one in 10 prescription users, are paying a stunning extra $100 per order in out-of-pocket costs for their medication, according to a  Consumer Reports poll. The price hikes have prompted some to cut corners with how they use their drugs, which in turn can negatively affect their health.

Some in pharma might buy the industry PR talking points about helping patients and people living longer with certain health conditions, but the reality is that the patients who experience the high cost of prescription drugs are angry, disappointed and disillusioned.

With new cancer drugs commonly priced at $100,000 a year or more hundreds of thousands of cancer patients are delaying care, cutting their pills in half or skipping drug treatment entirely, a Kaiser Health News examination shows. One-quarter of all cancer patients chose not to fill a prescription due to cost, according to a 2013 study in The Oncologist. And about 20 percent filled only part of a prescription or took less than the prescribed amount. Given that more than 1.6 million Americans are likely to be diagnosed with cancer this year, that suggests 168,000 to 405,000 ration their own prescribed use.

Pharma needs to expand their program on helping patients pay for high priced drugs.  It can’t be just for low income patients it has to include patients who could have their life savings wiped out by treatments.  As Bernie Sanders says “nobody should go broke because they are getting treated for cancer”.

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