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Consumers Union poll inspires legislators to call for hotline number in drug ads


WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration is being approached to include a hotline number on their television advertisements for consumers who want to report undocumented side effects of prescription drugs, according to published reports.

Two members of Congress, Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Jan Schakowsky, D. Ill., have been rallying for the decision, based on a Consumer Reports poll, published by Consumer Union, a non-profit organization. According to published reports, the poll stated that 16 percent of consumers who had taken a prescription drug had experienced side effects that were serious enough to be sent to a hospital but only 35 percent knew that they were able to report these side effects to the FDA.

The FDA does place an emphasis on consumer reports on side effects and problems with drugs through their program known as MedWatch, but according to published reports, they learn about fewer than 1 in 10 reactions.

The poll also included that television would be the most efficient way to bring awareness to consumers about drugs and their side effects, citing data that claimed 98 percent of respondents most frequently saw prescription drug ads on TV as opposed to the 59 percent that said they had seen it in print.

As a result, Consumers Union has sent the FDA a petition with 55,000 signatures requesting that a toll-free number and Web site address be included in their television advertisements, to allow consumers to contact the FDA to report serious side effects. FDA spokeswomen Rita Chappelle stated that the petition is in the process of being reviewed, according to published reports.

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