Americans are increasingly looking outside the borders of the United States in order to access affordable medication as drug prices throughout the country continue to skyrocket. A poll published Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Health Foundation showed that 8 percent of respondents reported that they or someone in their household had imported illegal drugs. That translates to about 19 million American adults.

That number is significantly higher than what government estimates have shown. Government interviews in 2011 reported that only about two percent of adults had imported illegal foreign drugs.

Respondents in the poll reported importing everything from medications for chronic conditions to short term antibiotics. The increase is due in part to the internet making is safer and easier to buy prescription drugs from foreign sources. Los Angeles resident Bobby Grant told Kaiser Health he'd saved at least $2,500 a year by purchasing medication for his partner's severe asthma from foreign sources over the past seven years.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website stated that "under most circumstances" the importation of foreign drugs for personal use is illegal, though it does list some exceptions. The FDA warned that drugs manufactured elsewhere have not been approved for sale or use in the U.S., meaning drugs from unauthorized sources could be counterfeit, inferior or expired. 

RTX25GDD Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, is shown here at a House Overusing and Government Reform hearing in Washington, D.C., Feb. 4, 2016. As CEO, Shkreli increased the price of a lifesaving drug by an astounding 5,000 percent. Photo: Reuters

Rising drug prices have made it onto both Republican and Democratic agendas amid controversy over the power of pharmaceutical giants and the Affordable Care Act. A group of Democratic senators appealed to President-elect Donald Trump Tuesday to join them in combating rising prices of medication by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, increasing transparency, reforming incentives for innovation and supporting generic competition for branded drugs. 

During the presidential campaign, Trump pledged to remove barriers that served to discourage competition between drug companies in order to lower prices. He also said he would allow patients access to imported foreign drugs as a way to offer reliable, safe and cheap alternatives to costly medications.