90% Americans fear pharma will use Covid-19 pandemic to raise drug costs

Nearly 9 in 10 US adults are concerned that the pharmaceutical industry will leverage the Covid-19 pandemic to raise drug prices, researchers have found.

Similarly, 84 per cent are very or somewhat concerned that the general cost of care will rise, and 79 per cent are very or somewhat concerned their health insurance premiums will go up in response to the pandemic.

In each of the latter two scenarios, 41 per cent of US citizens are very concerned.

The new findings, released by the non-profit West Health and Gallup as part of ongoing research on the rising cost of healthcare in the US, come from a nationally representative survey of 1,016 US adults.

Amid a mounting death toll, the results underline the knife-edge fears associated with paying for care in the US.

“Concerns loom large that when the pandemic is all over, Big Pharma and insurance companies will revert to old patterns and behaviours and continue to squeeze Americans with ever-higher drug prices and insurance premiums,” said Tim Lash, chief strategy officer for West Health.

The findings also revealed that the fear related to the cost impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic vary by demographic subgroup.

Most Americans, regardless of gender, race, income or political identity, believe drug prices will rise. However, there is less consensus regarding rising insurance premiums and healthcare costs. Among key demographic differences: 57 per cent of women are very concerned about rising drug prices, compared with 52 per cent of men.

Nearly half of women (48 per cent) are very concerned about the general cost of care rising, compared with 33 per cent of men. The data also showed that Democrats (66 per cent) are more likely to say they are very concerned about rising drug prices than are independents (52 per cent) or Republicans (49 per cent).

Amid concerns about how the Covid-19 pandemic could raise healthcare costs, a large majority of Americans support the federal government directly negotiating the price of a treatment for the disease with the drug manufacturer, the study said.