When a front group for insurers and drug cost middlemen promote a poll on drug pricing, everyone’s immediate reaction should include a healthy dose of skepticism. The same is true for a poll from the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, a group funded by the insurance lobby and pharmacy benefit managers – the same people who determine what patients pay at the pharmacy for prescription medicines.
This poll is not intended to inform the public debate on drug pricing or even health care more generally. Instead, it’s designed to attack America’s biopharmaceutical research companies and deflect blame for rising out-of-pocket costs. Here are a few of the critical flaws in the campaign’s latest poll:
- The poll cherry-picks data on drug pricing to deflect attention from the root cause of America’s affordability crisis. The problem that non-partisan polls routinely talk about is that declining coverage is forcing American patients to pay more and more out of their own pockets for health care, from deductibles to premiums to hospital services to prescription drugs.
- This narrow survey focuses on just one issue – drug prices – and fails to mention the health care issues that voters actually think are more important for policymakers to address, including rising out of pocket costs, deductibles and co-pays, rising hospital costs and surprise medical billing.
- The survey doesn’t ask people what’s most important to them – only what they think of drug pricing. If the poll had asked about other health care issues, they would find other issues rising to the top. If this group actually thinks drug pricing is the top health care issue voters care about, they should show the data to prove it. They don’t.
Other recent polls on drug pricing suffer from similar flaws. What the public really cares about – according to nonpartisan, public polling – is ending the COVID-19 pandemic, reigniting the economy and uniting the country. And when it comes to health care, people care about the deterioration of coverage and rising costs across the board. If policymakers and the media want a more accurate reflection of what voters care about, they should disregard the campaign’s skewed perspective and take a more honest look. Here is a helpful place to start.
Brian Newell is Deputy Vice President of Public Affairs at PhRMA and serves as lead spokesperson for national media. Before joining PhRMA in 2020, he served as managing director of strategic communications for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). Prior to BIO, Brian worked on Capitol Hill for ten years, including roles on the Education and Workforce Committee, the House Republican Conference and the Ways and Means Committee. Brian graduated with a BA in Political Science from the University of Maine, his home state. He enjoys spending time with his wife and two children – especially summer vacations on the lake in Maine.