Mar 1, 2019

What people think Big Pharma does with its money

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Reproduced from Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll; Chart: Axios Visuals

The public believes research costs and industry profits are both big factors in drug pricing — a perception that's pretty well aligned with the reality of where pharma's money goes.

By the numbers: The Kaiser Family Foundation's latest tracking poll asked respondents to identify the "major factors" contributing to high drug prices. They could pick more than one.

  • 80% said industry profits are a major factor.
  • Smaller-but-still-pretty-big majorities cited the factors that drugmakers usually point to instead.
  • 69% identified research costs as a major cost driver, and 63% put "major" responsibility on pharmacy benefit managers.

On balance, the public seems skeptical of pharma.

  • Most people — 71% — said they trust drug companies to come up with new and effective drugs, and to be honest about those drugs' safety and effectiveness.
  • But just 25% said they trust the industry to price its products fairly.

Yes, but: This poll also indicates that drug prices aren’t a problem for most people.

  • 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.

Go deeper: Pharma's research budgets are usually bigger than its profits

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Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

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Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

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