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The Price of Health: New WBUR Series Explores Prescription Drug Pricing

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station, is launching a special news series on the cost of prescription medicine. According to a WBUR Poll released today, the vast majority of Massachusetts residents have health insurance, and yet nearly one-third of those who are currently taking a medication say they find it difficult to afford prescription drugs.

“Our survey shows that even in a state with nearly universal health insurance coverage, the cost of prescription medications remains an issue for many residents, and a significant percentage report that they are waiting to fill prescriptions, or taking measures to make their medications last longer, because of the cost of these drugs,” said Elisabeth Harrison, managing editor for news content, WBUR. “Our goal in developing the series was to try to understand how this is affecting the lives – and the health – of patients, and what might be done to solve or at least improve this problem.”

The series, airing on WBUR’s Morning Edition (weekdays, 5 a.m. – 9 a.m.) from today through June 28, asks why this is happening and what it tells us about the complex problem of drug prices in our health care system. The series will explore some of the solutions that Massachusetts and others are debating in an effort to bring down drug prices.

Other WBUR Poll highlights:

  • 76% of residents surveyed think the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable.
  • People largely blame drug companies with 77% believing that drug companies aiming to maximize profits is a major contributor to drug prices.
  • While most people we surveyed spend under $100 per month on prescription drugs, cost is still an issue.
  • 31% of residents currently on medication say it’s somewhat or very difficult to afford prescription drug costs.
  • 24% report that they have not filled a prescription on schedule in the last year because of price.

The WBUR Poll was conducted by independent polling group MassINC. Topline results can be found here and crosstabs are here. Explore “The Price of Health” series online at wbur.org; new stories posted daily through Friday.

 

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