In Europe and North America, there is increasing political pressure being put on health regulatory agencies to become more transparent. To date, however, there has been little academic evaluation—let alone analysis—of these transparency initiatives from a risk communication perspective. This review examines whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Adverse Event Reporting System quarterly signal postings, put in place after the passage of the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act 2007, will assist patients and doctors in their decision-making processes, on the basis of results of a quantitative Internet survey of 433 physicians and 1,000 American adults. The results indicate that there is significant disagreement between physicians and the public about when medical safety issues should be communicated in the first place, with physicians opposed to early signal postings while the public in general is in favor. In addition the findings show that if the public were to find their drugs listed on the Adverse Event Reporting System signals web postings, more than a quarter would stop taking their medicine. Going forward, the Food and Drug Administration needs to work to a greater degree with social scientists in developing scientific-based communication strategies, rather than developing transparency initiatives on the basis of stakeholder consultations.
Lofstedt R, Bouder F, Chakraborty S.
May 6, 2013