Survey Reflects Strong Canadian Drug Backing

February 24, 2004 ( - Nearly two thirds of those in a recent survey called for the government to allow Americans to reimport cheaper prescription drugs from Canada or other countries because paying for them now is such a major concern.

Some 65% of those polled for the Associated Press by Ipsos-Public Affairs called for a relaxation of the current Bush Administration opposition to drug reimportation, according to an Associated Press report. In recent months, numerous local and state government officials have vowed to start their own Canadian reimport plan, regardless of the White House’s position (See Golden State Ponders Canadian Drug Move ).

More than seven in 10 respondents (71%) also backed giving the government authority to negotiate with drug makers for lower prices.

The survey brought the seriousness of the prescription drug-price issue into stark relief. With most Americans either currently taking prescription drugs or having family members who do, 33% said their families have trouble footing the bill at times. Of those with such financial woes, 75% say the response is simply to use fewer drugs.

Not surprisingly, 80% of respondents said the high cost of prescription drugs will be an important issue in the upcoming 2004 presidential campaign, with half labeling the issue “very important.” More than half (52%) said Democrats were more likely to make prescription drugs more affordable while 33% said the GOP would do a better job.

In November, Congress passed a Republican-written Medicare prescription drug benefit that goes into effect in 2006. While it will help many seniors pay for medicine, it also increases the role of private insurance in the Medicare system. In early December, President Bush signed it into law.

The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted February 16 to 18, 2004.