Many in U.S. Lack Education on Drug Side Effects, Benefits: Study

Americans may expect more out of new drugs than they are likely to get, according to the findings of recent research. 

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates that many Americans wrongly believe that the FDA only approves extremely effective drugs with few or minor side effects, and that new drugs are only approved if they are better than older treatments for the same problem.

Researchers found that with minimal education on drug side effects and efficacy, participants would be more likely to make better drug choices.

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The bar for a new medication to obtain approval by the FDA is not a lack of side effects or better effectiveness than previous drugs. To introduce a new prescription medication in the United States, which can generate billions of dollars in revenue for drug makers during the period before it becomes available as a generic, manufacturers need to establish that the benefits of the medication outweigh the side effects.

Researchers surveyed about 3,000 adults on what they believed was true about FDA-approved drugs, they then tested them on choosing the correct drug. They found that 39% of respondents believed that the FDA approved only drugs that were “extremely effective.” They also determined that 25% of U.S. adults believe that medications with serious side effects were automatically rejected for approval. Both of those assumptions are incorrect.

Researchers also took the respondents and educated some of them about specific drugs while leaving others in the dark. They found that simple explanations on the drugs’ side effects and expected benefits gave them the ability to choose drugs that were more appropriate for treatment. This led researchers to conclude that brief explanations about the uncertainties of drug benefits, as well as information on side effects had a significant impact on consumers making better drug choices.


  • LeroySeptember 15, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    This is good stuff!!

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