Many Don't Trust Institutions Identified As Most Responsible For Drug Safety

Armen Hareyan's picture
Advertisement

Prescription Drug Safety

Many believe the FDA and pharmaceutical companies should bear the most responsibility for drug safety, but are skeptical that they can be trusted to do so.

In a survey conducted by Harris Interactive(R), people were asked for their opinions regarding institutions responsible for drug safety in the United States. We found that institutions believed to have the greatest responsibility in drug safety are often those that are least trusted to do so. Among a list of four entities integral to drug safety -The Federal Drug Administration (FDA), pharmaceutical companies, doctors and other healthcare providers, and Congress - people identified the FDA and pharmaceutical companies as the entities that should bear the most responsibility for drug safety in the United States today.

However, when asked about their corresponding levels of trust in these entities, both faired poorly. Furthermore, people are skeptical that pharmaceutical companies will release information, positive or negative, about the safety of their products. Doctors and other healthcare providers, on the other hand, were also seen as bearing a high amount of responsibility for drug safety, but unlike the FDA and pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers received high trust ratings.

These are just some of the results of a nationwide survey of 1,726 adults interviewed online between October 20 and October 30, 2006. The survey was conducted for the Pharmaceutical Safety Institute and was designed to represent the general public, except that it excluded people who work in the health care industry, for a regulatory agency or who are health care providers.

Substantial majorities believe the FDA and U.S. pharmaceutical companies should bear the most responsibility for regulating the safety of prescription drugs in the United States. These two entities were deemed to bear a greater responsibility for drug safety than healthcare professionals and the Congress of the United States. However, large numbers of people still feel both of them also share responsibility for drug safety:

-- 60 percent of people believe the U.S. FDA has a great deal of responsibility for prescription drug safety;

Advertisement

-- 53 percent of people believe U.S. pharmaceutical companies have a great deal of responsibility for prescription drug safety;

-- 30 percent of people believe U.S. healthcare professionals have a great deal of responsibility for prescription drug safety; and

-- 22 percent of people believe the Congress of the United States has a great deal of responsibility for prescription drug safety.

In addition, substantial numbers believe these four groups have "quite of bit" of responsibility.

In light of recent reports of adverse reactions related to some frequently used prescription drugs, large numbers of people report that they do not trust the entities they identify as most responsible for ensuring drug safety. Only 45 percent of people somewhat trust or very strongly trust the U.S. FDA. Only 27 percent of people somewhat or very strongly trust pharmaceutical companies. Only 20 percent of people somewhat or very strongly trust Congress. However, many more people, a 58 percent majority, somewhat or very strongly trust doctors or other professionals who prescribe drugs.

Majorities of the public also do not have much confidence that drug companies will release or disseminate information they have regarding the safety of their drugs. Only 43 percent of people are fairly, very or extremely confident that drug companies will release any information about adverse reactions to their drugs. Only 44 percent of people are fairly, very or extremely confident that drug companies will eventually disseminate all information - positive or negative - they have regarding drug safety.

These Harris Interactive survey results show that substantial numbers of the public do not have confidence that it is adequately protected when it comes to drug safety. It is also evident that the entities people identify as most responsible for ensuring drug safety have a long way to go to win the public's trust. People have little confidence that they will do all they can to protect the public from adverse reactions to prescription medications. This is particularly true for the two entities considered to be most responsible for drug safety, the FDA and pharmaceutical companies.

Advertisement