The national poll by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that among consumers who have ever taken a prescription drug, 16 percent had experienced a serious drug side effect at some time in their lives. A serious drug side effect is described by the FDA as a reaction that led them to visit a doctor or hospital, was life-threatening or caused a significant disability or incapacity.
However, only 35 percent of consumers polled were aware that serious side effects can be reported to the FDA. Seventy-nine percent said they would report drug side effects to their doctor, 16 percent would tell their pharmacist and 7 percent would file a report with the FDA.
"Doctors and healthcare professionals play an important role in drug safety when they report their patients' adverse reactions to the FDA," Liz Foley of Consumers Union said in a statement. "But we're aware of the demands on their time, and we think consumers should know there is a resource available at the FDA to track their severe drug reactions."