Public Perceptions of the Pharmaceutical Industry and Drug Safety
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A survey of the US public titled ‘Consumer Perceptions on Drug Safety’ was conducted in October 2006. The survey was undertaken at that time because of the heightened public awareness of drug safety concerns over rofecoxib (Vioxx®) and pediatric antidepressant use. The survey was designed with questions related to public perception of the pharmaceutical industry, the US FDA, Congress and whether the US public perceived there to be a safety crisis. The survey consisted of 1726 US men and women aged 18 years and over.
The survey results showed that the FDA, Congress and US pharmaceutical companies are perceived as having a notable amount of responsibility to ensure safety (by 75%, 41% and 70% of respondents, respectively). Additionally, 96% of the survey respondents indicated that they had some level of concern about adverse reactions to prescription drugs that are taken as directed. Seventy-six percent of the respondents were ‘fairly’ to ‘extremelyrs concerned about adverse reactions, while approximately 42% of the survey respondents’ opinions ranged from ‘somewhat distrusting’ to ‘strongly distrusting’ of the pharmaceutical companies that develop drugs. These findings are comparable to those in surveys conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2005 and PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 2007. These surveys suggest that about half the respondents believe there is both the need and desire for reform in drug safety by the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA.
In reports from 2006 and 2007, the Institute of Medicine challenges the healthcare system and the FDA to adopt the principles of the culture of safety. While there have been steps taken to address the recommendations of the reports, as exemplified by the FDA Amendment Act of 2007 and the Pharmacoepidemiological Research on Outcomes of Therapeutics by a European Consortium, true reform across the life sciences sector will only come through broad adoption of these principles. Thus, it is particularly important for individuals and healthcare providers to track and report safety-related events involving approved and unapproved indications and medication errors. Pharmacovigilance professionals provide the foundation upon which the principles of the culture of safety can be built.
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