Americans Support Gene Therapies Even If They Cost More

Dr. Winegarden
Dr. Winegarden

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Wayne Winegarden, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Medical Economics and Innovation
Pacific Research Institute

MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this poll? Would you tell us a little about the Center for Medical Economics and Innovation? 

Response: Recent press reports have focused on how extensive innovative gene therapies can be.  PRI was interested in learning where Americans stand on these cures of the future, and commission a new national opinion survey to find out.

The Center for Medical Economics and Innovation is a new center launched by PRI this spring to research and advance policies showing how a thriving biomedical and pharmaceutical sector benefits both patients and economic growth. Medical innovation is an important driver of economic growth, responsible for over $1.3 trillion in economic activity each year. As the Milken Institute has found, every job in the biomedical sphere supports another 3.3 jobs elsewhere in the economy.

Among the activities of the Center – which can be accessed at www.medecon.org – are providing free-market analysis to evaluate current policy proposals, producing easy-to-understand data and analysis on current trends in medical science, breaking down complex issues like pharmaceutical and biomedical pricing structures, and demonstrating the benefits that market-based reforms can offer patients and the U.S. health care system. 

MedicalResearch.com: What types of questions were asked of the participants? 

Response: Those surveyed were asked their opinions in two major areas relating to gene therapies.

  • First, participants were asked their opinions on the innovation of gene therapies and the philosophy of curing a disease rather than treating them, as is the case with traditional medications.
  • Second, participants were asked about the higher costs associated with gene therapies, who should pay for it, and their own wiliness to be higher costs for access to life-saving treatments. 

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

On the innovation of gene therapy:

83% of Americans support efforts to advance the medical innovations offered by gene therapies.
80% agree that focusing on curing a disease is better than simply treating the disease in the long-run.
59% say they are more likely to support gene therapies knowing that they could provide cures for illnesses that hurt the very young.

On higher costs and who should pay for them:

79% agree that gene therapies should be pursued despite higher costs.
69% said that both Medicare and private insurance should cover the costs of gene therapies.
80% support quick Medicare approval for gene therapies.
67% would support a small additional cost to their own insurance bills to cover the costs of gene therapies.

Top line results can be reviewed here:  https://www.pacificresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/LPS-PRI-Omnibus-Poll-May-2019-MQ-1-1.pdf 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research?

Response: PRI’s survey underscores the fact that gene therapies provide significant value, but they also have the potential for future health care savings on drugs and doctor visits.  The most important takeaway from the survey is that it is imperative that policymakers ensure patients have access to these new cures that can improve their overall quality of life – and in many cases save their lives.

Making the most of these additional insurance costs requires fundamental payment reforms because the disincentives that pervade the current health insurance system will become an obstacle to patients accessing these treatments. Broad-based reforms that improve the effectiveness of health insurance and ensure that patients have adequate catastrophic coverage – likely through the greater use of re-insurance or high-risk pools- are required to ensure the availability of gene therapies. Also, payment reforms are key, such as spreading out the payment over time instead of paying the full amount up front or tying therapy payments to pre-established success benchmarks.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: Polling methodology:  The poll was conducted by Lincoln Park Strategies. 1,000 interviews among adults were conducted from June 5-6, 2019 and were weighted to ensure proportional results. The Bayesian confidence interval for 1,000 interviews is 3.5, which is roughly equivalent to a margin of error of ±3.1at the 95% confidence level.

Citation:

NATIONAL POLL: PACIFIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE

A Survey of American Adults June 7, 2019

https://medecon.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/LPS-PRI-Omnibus-Poll-May-2019-MQ-1-1.pdf

 

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