Almost a third of Americans say paying for prescription drugs is a problem in their families, and many are cutting doses to deal with the crunch, according to a poll for the Associated Press reported in the Arizona Star.
Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed in the AP-Ipsos-Public Affairs poll said the government should make it easier to buy cheaper drugs from Canada or other countries. The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Feb. 16-18 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
In January, the Paris-based pollster reported that despite the hype regarding drug reimportation, few Americans are doing it. That poll, also of 1,000 adults, found that 98% of those 750 persons who reported purchasing at least one prescription drug in the past two months purchased the drug in the United States. Less than 1% of them reported purchasing their drugs from Canada; and less than 1% purchased their prescription from Mexico.
In the latest poll, 33% said their families have trouble paying at times. Of those, three-fourths say the solution often is to cut back on the dosage.
The high cost of prescription drugs will be an important issue in the presidential campaign, said eight in 10 respondent in the poll. Almost half said it will be "very important."
In November 2003, Congress passed a Republican-written Medicare prescription drug benefit that goes into effect in 2006, and President Bush signed it into law in December 2003. While it will help many seniors pay for medicine, it also increases the role of private insurance in the Medicare system.
Despite the new law, 52% of those polled said Democrats were more likely to make prescription drugs more affordable; 33% said Republicans would do better at it.
The new law forbade two popular steps that could have made prescriptions more affordable:
- Letting Americans import drugs from Canada, Mexico and other countries, an idea supported by 65% of those polled for the AP.
- Giving the government authority to negotiate with drugmakers for lower prices, favored by 71% of respondents.