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Americans Confused About FDA and Drug Safety
Date:9/20/2007

Poll finds many mistrust the job the agency is doing

THURSDAY, Sept. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Although millions of Americans depend on prescription medicines for health, many are confused and distrustful of government's role in keeping those medicines safe, a new survey finds.

In fact, many of those polled said they didn't understand how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves drugs, and almost half judged the agency's performance as poor.

"The American people feel that health care is, after the war, the most important issue facing them and the 2008 presidential candidates," noted James Thurber, the director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, which commissioned the survey. "Americans feel drug safety is related to health care, and they are concerned about it," he added.

Congress may be reacting to those concerns: On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Food and Drug Administration Revitalization Act, which gives the FDA more money and power to ensure the safety of the nation's drug supply. The Senate is expected to pass the bill Thursday, and President George Bush is expected to sign it before Friday, when the FDA had been scheduled to begin laying off 2,000 employees.

The bill has the support of consumer advocates. "Congress is about to give the President legislation that should end the secrecy and foot-dragging when it comes to letting consumers know about unsafe medicines," Jim Guest, president of Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, said in a statement. "These reforms have been anxiously awaited by the millions of consumers who take a prescription drug every day and wonder if they know the truth about its side effects," he added.

In the meantime, however, Americans remain unsure about drug safety and the FDA's record so far. Some key findings from the new survey:

  • Most Americans (64 per
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