Survey shows lack of consumer confidence in FDA

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Consumers expressed their lack of confidence in the ability of the Food and Drug Administration to effectively do its job ensuring the safety of food and drug products, according to a survey published by Harris Interactive Tuesday.

More than half of consumers (60 percent) questioned the FDA’s ability to bring new drugs to market expediently. Conversely, 53 percent of consumers charged the FDA’s effectiveness in managing recalls or withdrawals.

“Recent analyses suggest that approving drugs more quickly could save lives, and along those lines the FDA has shortened its process from 33 months in 1991 to only 19 months in 2001,” stated Rick Millard, Harris Interactive group president. “While last-minute approvals are becoming more common, studies indicate drugs approved near the FDA’s deadline are more likely to have severe safety problems. Ultimately, the FDA does not win.”

The perception that the FDA does a good job ensuring the safety and efficacy of new prescription drugs has declined to 35 percent from 45 percent in 2007 and 56 percent in 2004, even though 61 percent of the general population considers ensuring safety and efficacy to be the most important task for the FDA.

Further, only 26 percent think the FDA does a good job ensuring the safety of prescription drugs that are manufactured outside the U.S., in part fueled by the contaminated heparin controversy that was sourced from China. Indeed, adults are still concerned about the series of China-imported toy recalls over the past year—confidence in the safety of toys manufactured outside the U.S. dropped dramatically from 44 percent in 2007 to 22 percent in 2008.

Harris Interactive conducted the online survey of 2,476 U.S. adults between April 1 and 4 for the Wall Street Journal Online’s Health Industry Edition.