Despite High Costs, Americans Support Potential of Innovative Gene Therapies to Cure Difficult-to-Treat Diseases
A new poll from the California-based nonpartisan think tank, the Pacific Research Institute (PRI), shows that Americans overwhelmingly support innovative gene therapies, which change the focus of medicine from treating illnesses to curing illnesses.
“Gene therapies have the potential to cure a wide array of difficult-to-treat diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease, autism, cystic fibrosis, HIV, and cancer, among others” said Dr. Wayne Winegarden, director of PRI’s Center for Medical Economics and Innovation. “Our new poll shows that Americans see the potential for the innovation from gene therapies to find cures for often-deadly diseases that cut short people’s lives, and illnesses that strike newborns, infants, and toddlers.”
Gene therapies differ from many traditional medicines in that they aim to address the underlying cause of the disease with a one-time treatment, rather than treating its symptoms over a patient’s lifetime. According to the poll, 80% of respondents agree that focusing on curing diseases is a greater priority than chronically treating them.
PRI’s new survey comes on the heels of the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a new gene therapy designed to treat spinal muscular atrophy, which the media dubbed “the most expensive drug in the world.”
“Despite higher costs, our new poll shows that Americans are excited about the potential of gene therapies to save people’s lives – and are willing to pay for them, too,” said Winegarden. “Not only do gene therapies provide significant value, but they also have the potential for future health care savings on drugs and doctor visits. Ensuring patients have access to these new cures that can improve their overall quality of life – and in many cases save their lives – is imperative.”
Tellingly, 78% of respondents agreed that developing cures for diseases should be pursued, despite high upfront costs. The poll also shows broad support for both private and public insurers covering these cures. Nearly seven in ten respondents (69%) think that insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid should pay for these treatments, and 67% would support an additional cost to their insurance payment to cover these treatments for all patients.
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.