Studies raise questions about how much drug safety info should be released

Prescription scares have caused a number of sources, including the FDA, to release a lot more prescription safety information--but could it be too much information?

Several recent studies have raised interesting questions about how much information is too much when it comes to prescription drugs. In March, a Pfizer survey of medical professionals found that 89 percent of the 300 respondents were at least somewhat concerned that patients would stop taking medications if negative safety information was released too early.

With all the information out there, it's also clear that patients' skepticism of prescription drugs has increased. A study earlier this year by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Harvard School of Public Health, and USA Today found that only 27 percent of U.S. residents felt very confident in the safety of prescription drugs. The same study found that little more than half felt that drug companies do enough to test and monitor drug safety.

Since prescriptions drugs do generally have benefits as well as side effects (or else doctors would not be prescribing them), efforts are being made to be open while not scaring consumers unduly. Pharma companies are trying to be more open about drug safety, and the FDA is planning to continue to alert consumers while trying not to cause unnecessary worry.

To learn more about the studies:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report piece