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Consumers Union Starts Campaign on Drug Side Effects

Consumers Union Starts Campaign on Drug Side Effects

February 8, 2008

Consumers Union, non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports, has just launched a campaign to make it easier for consumers to report serious side effects of medications to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). CU has filed a petition to the FDA, requesting the agency to require a toll-free number and web site in all TV drug ads for consumers to report side effects. CU is hoping to gather 50,000 signatures in support.

Drug companies often fail to present the benefits and risks of the products they advertise, and it often isn’t until a drug is out on the market and taken by millions that we see safety problems emerge. The easier it is for consumers to report side effects, the earlier the FDA will be able to detect potential safety hazards.

Here's how you can help right now:

Visit www.prescriptionforchange.org where you can add your name to the petition.

If you have an organization, you could do your own collection of signatures, and CU can combine lists before submitting them to the FDA.

The FDA’s current system for consumers to report drug side effects, called MedWatch, is woefully inadequate. It collects only 1 to 10 percent of all adverse events—because consumers don’t know about it!

Last year, Congress passed legislation requiring all printed drug ads to include MedWatch’s 1-800 number and website information, but left it to the FDA to conduct a study to determine if such information should also be included in TV ads. Their recommendation is due in March: it’s time to let the FDA know that we are serious about better reporting and giving consumers this potentially life-saving information.