Published Online: Sunday, June 1, 2008

To help make the public aware of MedWatch, the FDA?s reporting program for drug side effects, the Consumers Union (CU) is urging that the FDA?s side effect hotline and Web site be included in all TV drug ads, so individuals can easily report their serious side effects to the agency.

CU, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, recently presented the FDA with a petition, signed by nearly 56,000 individuals, calling for the information to be part of prescription drug TV ads. The move was prompted by a recent national poll by Consumer Reports National Research Center finding that only 35% of respondents were aware that serious side effects can be reported to the FDA.

Yet Americans were very familiar with drug advertising, CU notes. Eight in 10 respondents said they had seen or heard an advertisement for prescription drugs within the last 30 days, and 87% believe TV ads should include the side-effect reporting information. ?Clearly, consumers want to know how to report serious drug side effects to the FDA, and they think drug advertising is an ideal way to do that,? said Liz Foley, CU campaign coordinator.

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