The insurance trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans, sponsored that research. AHIP has been engaged in a concerted public relations battle with drug companies over drug prices, which AHIP blames for increased insurance costs.
In reaction to the Kaiser poll released Thursday, AHIP spokeswoman Clare Krusing said, "Americans are growing increasingly frustrated by high drug prices that are relentlessly driving up premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Drug makers need to get the message."
"We've hit an inflection point, where there have been year-over-year price increases, and what that is leading to is, I think, is a very serious issue about access and affordability," Krusing said.
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If drug prices continue rising as they have been, it will become more difficult to ensure that patients who need certain medications get them, Krusing said. She added, there should be "more transparency around prescription drug pricing."
But Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents the country's leading biopharmaceutical researchers and biotechnology companies, said the questions that Kaiser asked respondents in its survey failed to provide people with enough information on which to base their opinions, such as the cost drug companies incur in developing a new drug.
Zirkelbach cited a Tufts University study that found the cost of developing a new drug had more than doubled, from $1.2 billion in 2003 to $2.6 billion.
And he also noted how the design of a health plan by insurers can lead to customers directly paying for a greater share of drug costs than they previously did in the form of higher deductibles, co-payments and co-payments.
"What we know and what the data show is that patients are getting asked to pay an ever-greater share of their medicine costs," Zirkelbach said. "It's no wonder that patients feel that their medicine costs are going up and up."
"The trend we're seeing now goes too far," he said, referring to insurance plans shifting the burden of costs more toward customers in higher out-of-pocket limits.