A Reality Check for FDA and the Pharmaceutical Industry - Pharmaceutical Technology

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A Reality Check for FDA and the Pharmaceutical Industry
The public gives mixed reviews to the pharmaceutical industry and the US Food and Drug Administration for issues such as drug safety, timeliness in bringing drugs to market, and their role in addressing the high costs of drugs.

PTSM: Pharmaceutical Technology Sourcing and Management
Volume 3, Issue 10

Public's view of the cost of drugs. The public seems unconvinced that the high cost of new drugs stems from the high cost of research and development. The survey showed that the public perceive that the biggest contributor to the cost of prescription drugs is the profit margin (43%). Twenty-eight percent say its the cost of marketing, and only 25% say it is the cost of research.

The public and Congress. Public skepticism about Congress's ability to improve the drug-approval process is very high. Only 6% have a lot of trust in Congress to pass "common-sense laws" governing FDA approval of drugs, and 20% have no confidence, according to the survey. Overall, 50% have a lot or some confidence, but 49% have not much or no confidence in Congress. Despite these low opinions of Congress, the public wants Congress to improve the drug-safety process. Two-thirds of survey respondents said they would want Congress to do more to strengthen FDA's ability to ensure the safety of prescription drugs, compared with 30% who would want Congress to let FDA continue on its current course.

Policymaking and the public. The issue of drug safety is a recurring theme of the publication. More than three-quarters of survey respondents say prescription-drug safety is at least somewhat important to them in deciding their vote for the 2008 presidential election. Thirty-nine percent rank it as very important, 10% qualify it as one of the two most important issues, and 28% say it is somewhat important. Roughly one-quarter (21%) say that it is not important.

Drug safety and public experience. The survey also sought to measure the public's personal experience as it related to drug safety. Nearly three-fourths (74%) of survey respondents said they had taken a prescription drug during the past year. Roughly two-thirds (66%) of those that had taken a prescription drug said that they had been informed by a doctor or pharmacist of potential side effects. The overwhelmingly majority (69%) of respondents had not suffered a negative side effect from a prescription drug, and 30% had.


1. "Prescription Drug Safety National Survey," Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, Washington University, Washington DC, Sept. 2007


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