February 22, 2018
Bill Shapard

Oklahomans overwhelmingly support buying prescription drugs from Canada

The rising cost of prescription drugs is not a new story. But as continuing efforts to lower prices have had little effect, states including Oklahoma are starting to take matters into their own hands. And, according to the most recent SoonerPoll, Oklahoma likely voters overwhelmingly want their state legislature to take action.

Currently, U.S. law bans people from buying most prescription drugs from Canada, even if they are just as safe and effective as those bought in the U.S. However, there is already a provision in U.S. code specifically for proposals to import wholesale pharmaceutical drugs from Canada. It requires a state to draft and submit a plan to the secretary of Health and Human Services for approval.

SB 1381, which is currently before the Oklahoma state legislature, directs the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to draft a plan and seek approval. If it does not get federal approval, the Legislature would then study how to draft a plan that would pass, under the bill.

Over 70 percent of likely voters support this effort, including 77 percent of Independents, 73 percent of Democrats, and 67 percent of Republicans.

[box][QUESTION] Do you support state legislation that would allow the purchase of prescription drugs from Canada?

1. Yes, should be legal70.7%2. No, should not be legal15.53. Don't know/Refused [DNR]13.8


Also in the poll, 68.8 percent reported they were currently taking prescription medications on a regular basis, with 27 percent saying they take four or five prescription medications and another 23 percent saying six or more.

Nearly one-in-four likely voting Oklahomans (23.8 percent) reported that they decided NOT to fill a prescription in the past two years because of the cost of the drug.

According to the nonpartisan National Academy for State Health Policy, a total of 87 bills in 34 states all look to save money on prescription medications. Oklahoma is one of six states considering bills that would allow drugs to be imported from Canada, where a prescription drug cost an average 30 percent less than in the U.S.

"We know that the rise in prescription drug costs has significantly outpaced inflation, and for no rational reason," said AARP Oklahoma State President Joe Ann Vermillion, "The fact that nearly one in four Oklahomans are not taking potentially lifesaving drugs due to the cost is unacceptable. With no action taken at the federal level, it is time for states to take the lead in lowering the unreasonably high cost of prescription drugs."

About the Poll, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, asked these questions of Oklahoma likely voters as part of the SoonerPoll Quarterly Poll, and were commissioned by the Oklahoma AARP.

The scientific study was conducted from January 4-9, 2018 with 409 likely Oklahoma voters selected at random statewide from a tri-frame of both landline telephone and cell phones, plus a online panel from Research Now. The sample was weighted by age, political party, sex and congressional district in order to reflect the Oklahoma likely voter population for a primary election. The weighting was conducted using a 'layered technique.'

The sample reflects the traditional demographical profile of the Oklahoma likely voter with roughly half of respondents identifying as conservative and attending religious services once or more per week. The study has a Margin of Error (MoE) of ± 4.84 percent.

This poll not only conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls but exceeds the standard disclosure with a Call Disposition and Rate Calculation Report. A complete description of the methodology can be found here.

The poll's Call Disposition and Rate Calculation Report can be viewed here. A beta version of the Weighting Table Report can be viewed here.

Bill Shapard
About the Author

Bill Shapard

Bill is the founder of and ShapardResearch, a full service market research firm based in Oklahoma City. Bill began his career in polling after working on a major campaign in Oklahoma from 1996 until founding SoonerPoll in 2004.