There’s little Americans, by political party, agree upon in 2019. One of the only issues bringing people together in the U.S. is prescription drug prices — that they’re too high, that the Federal government should negotiate to lower costs for Medicare enrollees, and that out-of-pocket costs for drugs should be limited.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has been tracking this topic for a few years, and this month, their March 2019 Health Tracking Poll shows vast majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans all share these sentiments.

It’s not that patients who take prescription drugs don’t appreciate them – most (58%) say medicines have made their lives better, but most — 8 in 10 people — believe Rx costs are unreasonable.

It’s no surprise, then, that one-half of Americans have spoken with their doctor about whether there is a less expensive alternative to a drug the physician has prescribed.

The biggest culprit/contributor to prescription drug prices? consumers were asked. That would be profits made by pharmaceutical companies, cited by 80% of respondents. Second in line of contributors to prescription drug prices was the cost of R&D, followed by profits of prescription benefit managers (PBMs).

Few Americans — just one in four people — trust drug companies to price products fairly, KFF found. And, less than one-half of people trust that drug manufacturers inform the public when the companies learn of a safety concern with their drugs.

KFF found that most people over 18 years of age in the U.S. take prescription drugs, and over one-half of seniors use four or more different medicines. Those who have difficult affording their prescriptions tend to spend over $100 a month on the meds, take four or more prescriptions, are less affluent and are in fair or poor health.

Thus, due to costs, three in ten people haven’t taken their medicine as prescribed, including not filling the prescription, substituting over-the-counter remedies, and cutting pills in half or skipping doses.

KFF surveyed 1,440 adults 18 and over by phone between February 14th–24th 2019.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  This week, Eli Lilly announced that they would introduce a generic form of Humalog, the company’s insulin product, at a price 50% lower than the brand.

Just weeks before Lilly’s announcement, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) initiated Congressional committee research into insulin prices among Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Wyden asked, “why the list price of Eli Lilly’s main insulin drug, Humalog, went from $21 a vial in 1996 to its current list price of $275,” CNN reported the senator saying. “Humalog isn’t thirteen times as effective as it used to be. A vial doesn’t last thirteen times longer than it did in 1996,” Wyden observed.

In this Vantage analysis, Jonathan Gardner observed that Lilly’s action on generic insulin “took a leaf out of Mylan’s book” in their response to public outcry on EpiPen pricing. Mylan eventually approved a generic version of EpiPen, as told through this company press release.

David Lazarus of the LA Times noted that the Lilly move illustrates just “how broken our healthcare system really is.” He explained: “What Lilly and other drug companies are eager to do is keep lawmakers and regulators at bay amid growing outrage over the exorbitant prices charged for name-brand prescription meds. In this case, all Lilly is doing is following the same crisis-management playbook as fellow pharmaceutical pirate Mylan, which introduced an authorized generic version of the EpiPen after being pilloried for having jacked up the price of the life-saving device by 500%….The in-house generic allows them to gain the PR benefits of making a discount version of a drug available to people who otherwise couldn’t afford it.”

Nine in ten consumers in the March 2019 KFF survey – Democrats, Independents, and Republican majorities — said it should be easier for generic

The photograph here was taken during the tobacco industry leaders’ testimony to Congress nearly twenty-five years ago, from April 1994, swearing that “nicotine is not addictive.” drugs to come to market, understanding this dynamic.

Ironic that in this Congressional session, pharmaceutical manufacturers are testifying about the life-saving benefits of their products, but priced to drive about one-third of Americans not to adopt them.

Senator Johnny Isakson, a Republican serving a Georgia Congressional district, has Parkinson’s disease. He said that the cost of one of the medications that manages his condition recently increased by $90. “I can’t explain it,” he confessed, adding that medicines keep him able to work.