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To help make the public aware ofMedWatch, the FDA?s reporting programfor drug side effects, the ConsumersUnion (CU) is urging that the FDA?s side effecthotline and Web site be includedin all TV drug ads, so individuals can easilyreport their serious side effects to theagency.

CU, the nonprofit publisher of ConsumerReports, recently presented theFDA with a petition, signed by nearly56,000 individuals, calling for the informationto be part of prescription drugTV ads. The move was prompted by arecent national poll by ConsumerReports National Research Center findingthat only 35% of respondents wereaware that serious side effects can bereported to the FDA.

Yet Americans were very familiar withdrug advertising, CU notes. Eight in 10respondents said they had seen or heardan advertisement for prescription drugswithin the last 30 days, and 87% believeTV ads should include the side-effectreporting information. ?Clearly, consumerswant to know how to reportserious drug side effects to the FDA, andthey think drug advertising is an idealway to do that,? said Liz Foley, CU campaigncoordinator.

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