Americans: Drug Companies Provide a Benefit but Care More about Profits

February 25, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Americans may think drug companies provide a needed benefit, but they also believe that the drug firms are out for a profit first and foremost.

These are the results of a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, according to a press release from the company. While 78% of adults say that prescription drugs have a positive impact on the lives of Americans, 70% say that the companies that produce such drugs put profits ahead of people. Only 24% think that the companies are altruistic, putting people ahead of money.

Ratings of pharmaceutical companies’ customer service have been falling since 1997 when 79% people said drug companies generally do a “good job” serving consumers. In 2004, more people said drug companies generally do a “bad job” (48%) than a “good job” (44%) of serving consumers. This was the first time that the bad has outweighed the good, according to the survey.

Americans also blame drug companies for the rising cost of health care, according to the news release. Almost 60% of those polled say that drug costs increase the overall medical costs, while only 23% believe that drugs lower costs by reducing hospital visits and costly procedures. When blaming drug companies for rising costs, 24% of adult Americans say drug company profits are the most important reason, ahead of malpractice lawsuits (20%) and greed and waste in the system (20%), according to the survey results.

Most Americans do not believe that research and development drive the cost of prescription drugs. Instead, 74% assert that drug company profit margins or marketing costs are the biggest contributors to the price of prescription drugs. Eighty-one percent say that drug costs are not justified because companies charge more for medications than necessary. Only 18% say they trust drug companies’ ads to be truthful.

When asked about the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), most Americans express confidence in the agency’s ability to keep them safe. Over 75% say that they are “very” or “somewhat” confident that the FDA can ensure drug safety, while only 22% do not think it can do it.

The results of this poll come from the latest Kaiser Health Poll Report, a bi-monthly tracking poll. Results are at http://www.kff.org/healthpollreport/feb_2005/index.cfm .

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