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Consumer Reports Poll: Most Say TV Drug Ads Should Include Info on How to Report Side Effects
Date:4/2/2008

Most Americans Don't Know They Can Report Bad Reactions to FDA Safety Program

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new Consumer Reports poll shows that one in six Americans who have ever taken a prescription drug experienced a side effect serious enough to send them to the doctor or hospital, but the majority of consumers don't know they can report these side effects to the FDA, which is responsible for tracking drug safety problems.

To help make the public aware of the FDA's reporting program for drug side effects -- known as MedWatch -- Consumers Union today gave the FDA a petition signed by nearly 56,000 consumers asking that a toll-free number and website be included in all TV drug ads so people can easily report their serious side effects to the agency. CU is the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

"You can't turn on a TV today without seeing a drug ad, but those ads never mention that consumers should be reporting serious drug side effects to the FDA," said Liz Foley, campaign coordinator with Consumers Union. "What better way for the FDA to let consumers know how to report serious problems with their medications than putting a toll-free number and website in all those drug ads we're bombarded by each day?"

Congress required the MedWatch reporting information in all print drug ads when it approved a major overhaul of drug safety laws last fall, and called for an FDA study to determine if it was appropriate to include the information in TV advertisements. But that study -- due at the end of March -- has not been completed.

"As someone who lost a loved one from an adverse drug reaction but didn't know where to turn, the FDA should make it as easy as possible for people to report serious side effects," said Kim Witczak, founder of the drug safety advocacy group WoodyMatters, named after her husband.

Witczak worked with Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and others to get the DTC reporti
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SOURCE Consumers Union
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