Most people said they trust drug companies to come up with new and effective drugs

  • Most people — 71% — said they trust drug companies to come up with new and effective drugs.
  • But 80% said industry profits are a major factor in high drug prices.
  • 75% said it’s easy to afford their prescriptions, and 45% said they pay less than $25 per month. Unsurprisingly, poorer people and those in worse health had a harder time covering their bills. Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

How many people are living normal, productive lives thanks to the prescription drugs we take. Today, for example in the US, over 35 million people take statins to reduce high cholesterol and millions more take high blood pressure medication to reduce the risk of strokes and other CV problems. Yet the media would have us ALL believe that the drug industry is causing the deaths of people who can’t afford their medications.

I can’t defend the high price of insulin or a drug for a rare disease that now costs $375,000. However, I do know that the real price drug companies charge is hidden in our complex health system that is meant to protect companies that are taking in enormous profits from American healthcare.

I also know that the media and politicians love to sensationalize stories about people who can’t afford prescription drugs. Rather than ask “have you tried to contact the drug company for payment assistance” they portray the drug industry as evil.

Last week I spent two days in research listening to people talk about the drug industry and it’s definitely a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, they understand that prescription drugs are helping them manage chronic health problems but they also know that their company-sponsored health insurance is costing them a LOT more money and they want to blame someone, anyone for taking home less money.

Based on the headlines there is bipartisan support for allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to get a lower price for people with Medicare, which covers 60 million Americans. But while the public sees profits made by pharmaceutical companies as a major factor contributing to the price of prescription drugs (80 percent), a majority (63 percent) also say profits made by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), companies that manage prescription drug benefits for health plans, are a “major factor” contributing to the price of prescription drugs.

In other words, they know the healthcare system is broken and that pharma alone is not to blame. During the research I had the moderator tell people in groups “did you know that even if all prescription drugs were free our healthcare costs would still be increasing”. The response, at first, was silence followed by anger at insurers and PBM’s. What we didn’t here were people who were willing to share the responsibility of high healthcare costs due to poor nutrition and lack of exercise.

People today are smarter than politicians and the media give them credit for but at the same time, in our divided country, people like to assign blame. The media knows this and of course loves to fan the flames.

Not all drug companies are good corporate citizens some need closer scrutinization, but we can’t just put one player from our healthcare system on trial.