Doctors’ share sentiments on issues of policy debates

As candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton prepare to face off in their first presidential debate, Sermo, the leading global social network exclusively for physicians, polled its network of U.S. physicians on crucial healthcare issues facing the next administration.

Poll Key Findings

  • 56 percent of physicians believe the government should stop allowing drug companies to make deals with generic drug makers that delay generic competition;
  • 43 percent of U.S. doctors polled support a broader use of interoperable Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) across state lines;1
  • U.S. physicians are split on whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA); and
  • 67 percent of physicians support federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

“Conversations about the U.S. presidential election are dominating social media, and doctors are taking part in political discussions on topics ranging from EpiPen prices to gun policy every day on the Sermo network.” said Osnat Benshoshan, Sermo’s Chief Marketing Officer. “With election rhetoric boiling over, Sermo offers physicians an anonymous space to speak their minds, debate the issues, and consider the profound impacts that healthcare policies can have on doctors and patients among their peers.”

For an infographic of selected poll results, please click here.

Prescription Drug Pricing
Recent spikes in the price of prescription drugs have resulted in contentious political debates, fueled most recently by Mylan’s Epi-Pen price increases.

This month, Sermo polled 993 physicians on potential solutions to address skyrocketing drug prices. 65 percent of those surveyed agreed that pharmaceutical companies should be required to disclose their budgets for developing, manufacturing, distributing and advertising each of their products. A staggering 89 percent agreed that the FDA should expedite generic drug applications for competing products when the original drug has significantly jumped in price.

When asked to select the best option from a slate of proposals to rein in drug prices without restricting the development of new treatments, doctors chose:

  • Create a regulatory panel to monitor and respond to unjustified price hikes – 33 percent
  • Speed up FDA review of generic drugs – 24 percent
  • Allow importation of similar drugs – 20 percent
  • Fine companies that excessively raise prices on existing drugs – 14 percent
  • It’s not the government’s place to intervene – 9 percent

In October 2015, 1,594 Sermo member physicians responded to a Sermo poll on what they think should be done to lower drug costs. Fifty-six percent of the U.S. physicians polled believe the government should stop allowing drug companies to strike deals with generic drug makers that delay inexpensive versions of brand-name drugs.

One pediatrician stated on the Sermo network that there is no silver bullet to solving the inflated pricing of prescription, noting, “This is a multidimensional problem that cannot just be laid at the feet of pharmaceutical companies alone. Pharma helps to design, study, and manufacture the meds. They do spend a great deal on marketing, as do all major players in most industries.”

Similarly, a family medicine physician added, “One of the main reasons that prices skyrocket is that big pharma companies have been allowed to buy up small pharma companies and create a monopoly on the manufacturing of these long lead-time, very cheap generics. They can then charge whatever they like for these meds. If it’s not the responsibility of the FDA, then surely the FTC should be stepping in to protect the public from price gouging. This is not free market level field competition, but a cornering of the market on certain drugs for which there is no comparable equivalent.”

Opioid Abuse
Curbing the prescription drug and heroin abuse epidemics has become a key issue in races at the federal, state, and local levels, and Sermo asked doctors for their thoughts on solutions to the crisis. A plurality of U.S. doctors polled (43 percent) believe a broader use of interoperable Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) across state lines would be the most effective option.2

One U.S. physician suggested, “Utilizing PDMPs across state lines would enable prescribers to identify more easily those individuals seeking drugs for non-medically indicated usage.”

Doctors are more concerned about awareness of opiate antidotes like Naloxone (Narcan), the medication used to reverse the effects of opioids especially in overdose, than they are about access to those antidotes. An overwhelming 81 percent of physicians agreed that awareness campaigns to educate the public about Naloxone would be the most important step in the fight against opioid abuse.3 By contrast, only seven percent of physicians believed increased access to Naloxone for those at risk for overdose would be the top priority, and when asked whether Naloxone should be available over the counter, doctors were split 50/50.4

Affordable Care Act
With President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) under scrutiny again this election season, a Sermo poll of 2,239 U.S. physicians found that doctors are split 50/50 on whether they want the next president to keep the ACA implemented or repeal it completely. However, Sermo network physicians are in agreement across the board that consumer’s healthcare options should not be limited by state.

If the ACA were to be kept in place during the next president’s term, 63 percent of physicians would want consumers to be able to purchase insurance across state lines. Furthermore, 62 percent of responding physicians support a proposed nationwide marketplace that would allow consumers in all 50 states to shop for health insurance, instead of each state having its own exchange.

Abortion policy has become a mainstay of election rhetoric. Sermo’s query found that a majority of the 1,032 U.S. participants polled are pro-choice, both as physicians (75 percent) and as private citizens (70 percent). Furthermore, 67 percent of physicians support federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

One U.S. emergency medicine physician commented, “The passage of Roe v. Wade did not mean suddenly women got abortions; it reduced the number of women dying from abortions. Whether one thinks abortion is murder, unethical, against society’s interests, or appropriate, it will continue to happen. Sanctioning it or not, if we go back to the days of back-alley abortions, it will be a grim spectacle.”

For more information on the methodology of Sermo polls, please visit

About Sermo
Sermo is the leading social network for physicians – the world’s largest virtual doctors’ lounge where doctors talk real world medicine. Sermo’s mission is to revolutionize real world medicine by providing physicians a safe, private and trusted platform for free and open dialogue on an unprecedented global scale. Sermo has 600,000 fully verified and licensed members and is now available for doctors in 30 countries: the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Italy, Argentina, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, France, Finland, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, Israel, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Hungary, Poland and Germany. Sermo is also the world’s largest health care professional polling company with 1.8 million HCPs in both the social network and a digital research network, spanning 80 countries. Sermo conducts 700,000 surveys a year.

Learn more at


Racepoint Global
Liz Wells, +1 202-517-1386
Osnat Benshoshan
Chief Marketing Officer