US consumers believe both Congress and the US Food and Drug Administration have failed to protect them from harmful drugs, and they want the government to have the power to require warning labels and follow-up studies on drugs with safety problems.

Nine out of ten Americans think that all clinical drug trial results should be made public, and 84% believe the government should “have the authority to take any action necessary” to ensure drug safety.

These are the findings of a recent telephone survey conducted in March by the Consumer Reports National Research Center among more than 1,000 randomly selected adults. Respondents were asked what reforms they thought would strengthen the nation’s drug safety system.

“The message we’re hearing from consumers couldn’t be clearer,” commented Jim Guest, CEO of Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports. “They want strong laws to ensure our prescription drugs are as safe and effective as possible.”

Power to order follow-up studies

Respondents to the survey also overwhelmingly agreed the FDA should have the power to order follow-up safety studies, something that is generally beyond the realms of the agency once a drug is on the market. As many as 92% of respondents also believed that pharmaceutical companies should publicise the results of all clinical trial studies, to reveal a drug’s effectiveness as well as possible hazardous side effects.

Commenting on the results, Guest said: “Right now drug companies can game the system by touting the positive results for their drug studies, while downplaying information about harmful side effects. Americans are fed up with being kept in the dark about critical health and safety information, and they overwhelmingly want change.”