Do you have any interest in telling the FDA what you really think about drug ads? Well, then I have a campaign for you: check out Prescription for Change. Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, is running this grassroots push to gather 50,000 signatures to dump on the FDA's doorstep -- calling for better reporting of drug side effects.
"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."
"The FDA's current system for consumers to report drug side effects, called MedWatch is woefully inadequate; it's estimated to collect 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, but left it to the FDA to determine if such information should also be included in TV ads. Their recommendation is due in March, and it's time to let the FDA know we are serious about better reporting and giving consumers this potentially life-saving information."
Check out their site to learn more.
On a related note, my buddy Fard is running an "experiment" over at his Healthcare Vox blog: can social media help clarify the debate over generic drugs? Can generics cause "a shifting profile of side effects" as the LA Times claims? Or is that just FUD spread by Big Pharma to discourage purchase of cheaper alternatives to their products? Fard wants to use the online forum (or his blog, at least :) to find out whether doctors or patients have any hard evidence that generic medications are not truly equivalent to their branded counterparts. Please go drop him a comment if you'd like to get involved.
What about generic drugs for diabetes, anyway? Are there many? Anybody using them? For my part, I'm still wondering if pricey insulin will ever go generic.
****** UPDATE 4/4/2008 ******
The Prescription for Change campaign has now exceeded expectations by gathering 56,000 signatures, and has received some excellent coverage in the LA Times -- calling for TV drug ads to list a mandatory FDA consumer hotline number. Cool!
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