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U.S. Public Lacks Confidence in FDA: Poll
Date:4/30/2009

More than half of those surveyed believe agency is falling behind in safeguarding food, drugs

THURSDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- Although the American public feels a little better about the job the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is doing now than a year ago, about half still believes the agency isn't doing enough to safeguard the country's food and drugs, a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll finds.

When it comes to monitoring the safety and effectiveness of new prescription drugs, 47 percent of respondents believe the agency does a poor job -- an improvement over the 58 percent disapproval rating noted in a similar poll last year.

As for food safety, 49 percent of Americans have a negative view of the job the FDA is doing, while 48 percent have a positive assessment.

Imported food safety, in particular, appears a focus of concern, with only 6 percent of respondents saying that the FDA's oversight of imported foods is "excellent" and 21 percent saying it is "poor."

Similarly, there's doubt about the FDA's ability to ensure the safety of prescription drugs manufactured abroad.

"Perceptions of drug safety have gone up and down," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll. "I think what happens is that, as stories break about drug problems -- and Vioxx comes to mind -- those numbers go up. We seem to have recovered from the low figures of last year," he added.

However, on the list of things people believe the agency should be looking at, "food safety emerges as by far the top priority as far as the public is concerned for the FDA," Taylor said. That could reflect concern with a slew of recent food-borne illness outbreaks, including the recent peanut/salmonella scandal and another salmonella outbreak in 2008 that was eventually traced to tainted jalapeno peppers.

"Every time you get a food recall, spinach or tomatoes or any of those things, you get a huge blip in
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