Poll: 4 in 5 say $1,000-a-pill drug cost ‘unacceptable’

Eighty-two percent in a new poll say the cost of a $1,000-a-pill medicine which has sparked congressional scrutiny is “unacceptable” and expressed concerns the specialty drug could harm innovation in the pharmaceutical industry.

In the survey by the Morning Consult released Tuesday, only 18 percent agreed that the cost was “acceptable and what we have to pay for innovative, life saving drug treatments.”

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The poll comes as drug company Gilead faces heavy scrutiny over its new hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi. The new and highly effective drug costs 1,000 a pill in the U.S. and the complete treatment can cost patients well over $84,0000.

The poll found that Americans are satisfied with what they paid for prescription drugs by a 78 to 22 split.

But nearly 6 in 10 likely voters said they were concerned about the costs of specialty drugs in the future and that their families would not be able to afford them.

The poll was sponsored by the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, which has been fighting the drug industry over the rising cost of specialty drugs typically intended for small populations with serious diseases.

“In the United States, to reward innovators, we effectively give manufacturers monopoly power to recoup the cost of developing important new therapies,” says the group. “The vast majority of new drugs have no generic substitutes and many don't even face much brand competition.”

Lawmakers in both houses have raised concerns about the cost of Sovaldi.

“Given the impact Sovaldi’s cost will have on Medicare, Medicaid and other federal spending, we need a better understanding of how your company arrived at the price for this drug,” wrote Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a letter to Gilead last week.

House Democrats want a hearing to discuss legislation that would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate down the cost of Sovaldi in Medicare Part D plans.

Critics have warned there are 32 million people in the U.S. with hepatitis C and trying to treat them with Sovaldi would put a huge burden on the healthcare system.

However, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America argues the price of the drug reflects Gilead’s need to recoup research and development dollars.

The lobby group says the drug will save billions in longterm healthcare costs by reducing the number of patients who need liver transplants because of hepatitis.