Most Americans fear foreign-made drugs

If you don't entirely trust foreign-made drugs, you're far from alone. A new survey from the Pew Prescription Project finds that 70% of Americans voters have no confidence in drugs made in China, and 54% have no confidence about drugs made in India.

The survey, which took place just before the recent recall by Johnson & Johnson of infant and children's liquid medicines -- drugs that were made in a U.S. plant -- also reports that 78% of voters are extremely or mostly confident that drugs made in the U.S. are free from contamination.

That confidence level drops off dramatically when drugs are made overseas.

According to the survey conducted by Hart Research Associates/Public Opinion Strategies, 60% of American voters are convinced Canadian made drugs are safe, and the numbers drop for other countries: Switzerland (47%) and Ireland (30%).

The survey also suggests that whatever Americans' views about the overall role of government should be, checking out the safety of drugs is an exception. 55% of Americans say the government should be doing more about the safety of drugs produced in other countries, and 89% of voters would support legislation to give the Food and Drug Administration more authority over prescription drug safety.

On Tuesday at a news conference, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and consumer and manufacturing groups cited the poll as a reason for stepping up the role the FDA plays in examining both prescription drugs made overseas and over-the-counter medicines in the U.S.

Bennet offered legislation Tuesday that would let the FDA order the recall of over-the-counter medications as well as prescriptions drugs and require the agency to track and inspect foreign plants when drugs made there are being shipped to America.

"For too long, the FDA has lacked the proper and adequate authority to adequately safeguard our drug supply," said Bennett, adding that whenever he travels in Colorado, he hears concerns "about whether they can trust the safety of their medicines. Those concerns turn out to be justified,"

Allan Coukell, director of the Pew project, said that while there has been a surge in voluntary drug recalls, there are still problems.

"There is still reason to be concerned, because the majority of the recalls were related to manufacturing, quality and testing," he said.

Marcia Harms, director of the Prescription Access and Quality, Community Catalyst, said the Johnson & Johnson recall "gave us a scare."

"It highlighted that the FDA does not have the authority to make mandatory recalls" of over-the-counter medicines, Harms said.
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