Before taking your next insulin shot or beta blocker, did you ever wonder how the medication your taking went from the labs into your hands? A recent survey conducted by Research America An Alliance for Discoveries in Health, asked this question and many others during an online sample of 1,000 American adults in February 2010.
The survey, conducted by the Research Enterprise Poll was demographically representative of adult U.S. residents, and was funded by Eli Lilly and Company, which commissioned Charlton Research Company to conduct the poll. Among some of the interesting findings included in the survey, the results showed that:
- 72% of Americans are very confident or confident in the FDA’s safety review system, although it was down from 74 percent in 2007;
- 41% say the FDA approval process takes too long;
- Only 5 percent were not confident in FDA’s safety, down from 11 percent in 2007;
- 76% say clinical research is of great value, and the same number say they are likely to participate in a clinical study, but only 6% say their doctor has ever suggested that they do so;
- 93% say it is important-and 69% say very important-for the U.S. to be a global leader in medical, health and scientific research;
- When asked to name the government agency that funds most of the taxpayer-supported medical research in the U.S., nearly one in five mistakenly named the FDA; fewer than 10% correctly named the NIH; and
- Nearly three-quarters of Americans are confident in our system for reviewing the effectiveness and safety of new medicines and medical devices;
Another interesting finding was that Americans were split almost evenly regarding their opinion about the pace of FDA approval. Specifically, 52% felt that FDA should move faster, while 48% said FDA should act more slowly. In addition, 92% of respondents felt that it was somewhat important or very important that Congress fund university-based experts to help improve the approval process for pharmaceuticals and other medical products.
The poll also showed that the most trusted sources for medical research information are pharmacists (83% find trustworthy), patient groups (82%), CDC (79%) and their health care providers (78%). Americans also say they trust research information from NIH (61%). Yet only 17% say they regularly check government websites for medical research information, compared to 66% who consult commercial medical sites such as WebMD.
Interestingly, in asking respondents what the most important job is for the FDA to undertake (one being the most important), the survey found that:
- 59% believed the most important job is to protect the safety of Americans;
- 17% said the most important job is to provide accurate information to the American public about the benefits and risks associated with medicines;
- 16% said the most important job is to get new medicines and medical products to the American public; and
- Only 7% said the most important job is regulating companies that produce medicines and medical products
In their press release, Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research America noted that "public expectations for medical progress are very high” and that “Americans want new drugs and medical devices delivered faster, and they rightly want safety to be a top priority." To meet these expectations, she acknowledged the need for more resources at FDA, NIH, and the CDC, since the proposed 2011 budgets are not enough “to keep pace so they can fulfill their missions, and the public needs to let elected officials know how important these issues are."
When asked about attitudes toward the drug industry, over 51% of participants felt that the pharmaceutical industry has very positive or somewhat positive impact on improving American healthcare, while 56% believed that industry positively improved the health of themselves and their family. Further support of the pharmaceutical industry showed that:
- 64% believe the pharmaceutical industry provides accurate information about the risks and side effects of their products very well or somewhat well.
- Almost 50% believe the pharmaceutical industry conducts clinical trials responsibly somewhat well.
- 64% believe the pharmaceutical industry makes sure their products are safe and effective before bringing them to market very well or somewhat well.
- Almost 75% felt the pharmaceutical industry creates products that save lives and improve people’s quality of life very well or somewhat well.
- 63% responded that the pharmaceutical industry provides general medical safety information very well or somewhat well.
With the poll finding very strong support (94%) for the idea that institutions conducting medical and health research-government, universities and private industry-should work together, critics must reevaluate their concerns. In addition, 88% believed that pharmaceutical companies sometimes fund research conducted in conjunction with universities, hospitals and other institutions, and over 50% believe industry has a positive impact on improving healthcare. These numbers clearly demonstrate that working together, the public and private sectors can “bridge gaps and turn more early-stage discoveries into treatments faster.”
As a result, there can be no question about what the proper role of industry in health care is: “Americans see such collaboration as leading to greater knowledge, better success rates and faster development of cures and treatments, as well as avoiding duplication and maximizing resources devoted to research and development.”