As the battle for the US presidency hots up, the candidates will be interested in the results of a survey which show that the highest healthcare priority for Americans is reducing the cost of prescription drugs

In a survey carried out by the Alliance of Minority Medical Associations, which claims to represent the "many under-served populations within the USA", 47% of likely voters in November believe "making medications more affordable" is the most important improvement needed to the country's healthcare system. Next in terms of priorities is "easier access to doctors, clinics, and hospitals" with 22%.

The survey respondents also showed "overwhelming support for creating an approval pathway for generic, or follow-on biotechnology therapies", said AMMA, with 86% of likely voters stating their desire for such a system. More than three quarters, 77%, stated they were more likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who supports an approval pathway for follow-on biologics, and both the Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain have indicated support for such a measure.

"We as healthcare consumers and providers are very concerned about having the ability to afford prescription medicines," said Randall Maxey, president of AMMA. "With rising healthcare costs and increasing pressures that limit access to prescription drugs, this survey reinforces the fact that Americans overwhelmingly desire another pathway to affordable medications".

The survey also affirmed Americans' confidence in the US Food and Drug Administration to ensure drug safety for consumers. Furthermore, 85% of likely voters stated that they were more likely to support a biogenerics pathway after hearing that FDA officials have said they can safely test generic versions of biologics and have already asked Congress to do so.

Dr Maxey concluded by noting that the next step is for Congress to take the lead and create a follow-on biologics approval pathway. "It is imperative that patients can benefit from increased access to lifesaving medications as a result of competition and innovation within the biologics industry," he said