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Poll of the Day: Americans Fear Drug Companies Will Use Covid to Raise Prices

Yuval Rosenberg

Nearly 90% of Americans are concerned that drug companies will use the Covid-19 pandemic to raise prices, according to a new poll by Gallup and West Health, a non-profit organization focused on health care costs. More than half (55%) of adults surveyed said they are very concerned that the pharmaceutical industry will leverage the pandemic to raise prices. Another 33% said they are somewhat concerned.

Nearly nine in 10 Americans also said they support allowing the government to negotiate prices directly with the manufacturer of any approved Covid-19 treatment.

The poll also found that 79% of Americans report being very or somewhat concerned about their health insurance premiums going up and 84% are very or somewhat concerned about the general cost of care rising.

More than half give low marks to U.S. coronavirus response: Asked to rate the national response to the pandemic relative to U.S. spending on health care, more than half of Americans called the response poor (34%) or fair (23%). About one in 10 (9%) rated the response as excellent and another 14% described it as very good.

The pollsters surveyed 1,016 American adults in interviews conducted May 11-22.

Why it matters: There has been speculation that the coronavirus pandemic and the race for a vaccine or treatment may present an opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry to burnish its dismal reputation. A Harris poll from mid-May found that 40% of Americans have a more positive view of the industry than they did before the pandemic hit.

But as Beth Snyder Bulik wrote this week at Fierce Pharma, pricing remains a potential landmine for drugmakers looking to reset their reputations. "If a vaccine or treatment exists, but Americans can’t afford to get it, especially the most vulnerable or at risk populations—for example, lower income, minority, or living in more densely populated areas—it will likely be a major issue," Harris Poll Managing Director Rob Jekielek told Fierce Pharma.

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