AP/Ipsos Poll: Americans Mostly Confident Prescription Drugs Are Safe

Washington, DC -- The latest AP/Ipsos poll shows that the American public - including those who have taken specific Cox-2 inhibitors - generally has confidence in the safety of prescription drugs. People are slightly more confident in the safety of prescription drugs than they are in the ability of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that safety.

Few Have Reassessed Drug Risks In Wake Of Recent Alarms Only one in seven people (14%) who take any prescription drugs say they have asked a doctor or pharmacist to reassess their prescriptions in the wake of recent news about Vioxx and similar drugs. A third (33%) of those who have taken Vioxx, Celebrex or Bextra in the past year have asked to reexamine their prescriptions, but most (67%) have not.

Eight In Ten Confident Of Safety Of Prescription Drugs In U.S. A wide majority (83%) of Americans have confidence in the safety of prescription drugs sold in the U.S. However, more say they are "somewhat" (48%) than "very confident" (36%). Relatively few (16%) lack confidence in prescription drugs.

High income earners (45%) and college graduates (46%; 53% of male grads) are more likely than others to be "very confident" in the safety of prescription drugs. Conversely, seniors (23%), members of minority groups (21%) and people with up to a high school education (21%) are somewhat more prone to be "not too" or "not at all confident" of drug safety.

Americans At Least "Somewhat Confident" In FDA Three in four U.S. adults have confidence in the FDA, although those who are "somewhat confident" (50%) outnumber those who are "very confident" (27%) by two to one. Nearly a quarter (23%) are "not too" or "not at all confident."

Confidence in prescription drugs is closely tied to the FDA's reputation. Nearly all those who have confidence in the FDA also trust that prescription drugs are safe (94%). People who lack confidence in the FDA, by contrast, are divided on drug safety (51% confident, 47% not).

People under age 30 (83%), college graduates (85%) and Republicans (85%) have more confidence in the FDA than others. Confidence in the FDA is lowest among unmarried women (30%), rural residents (31%) and seniors (28%).

Three In Four Americans Have Taken Prescription Drugs Recently Three-quarters of Americans say they have taken prescription drugs at least once in the past year. Nearly all those aged 50-64 (84%) and 65 and up (87%) have taken a prescription, as have two-thirds of those under 50. More women (80%; 84% suburban women) than men (68%) have taken a prescription drug this year.

Men under 45 (42%), members of minority groups (36%) and those with up to a high school education (31%) are relatively more likely to say they have not taken prescription drugs in the past year.

Of adults who have taken prescription drugs, one in four (19%) have used one or more of the three leading Cox-2 inhibitors -- Celebrex (11%), Vioxx (10%) or Bextra (5%) -- within the past year. Two-thirds (67%) of people taking these drugs are age 50 or older. People who took any one of these Cox-2 inhibitors have nearly as much confidence in the FDA (71%) and overall drug safety (83%) as the public at large.

Six In Ten Have Discussed Side Effects With Their Doctor Of those who have taken any prescription drug within the past year, six in ten (62%) discussed the side effects and risks of a new prescription with their doctor. Fewer than half (45%) spoke about risks and side effects with their pharmacist. The most frequent means for gathering information about a prescription is through the information pamphlets that come with the drug (85% have read them).

Men (68%) and people under age 30 (71%) most often say they have discussed risks and side effects with their doctor. Suburban women are among those least likely to have spoken with their doctor (47% have not). About half of prescription drug takers who lack confidence in the FDA and drug safety at large also have not discussed side effects with their doctor.

While women are less likely than men to talk with their doctor about risks and side effects of a new prescription, more women (92%) than men (76%) say they read the information provided with the new prescription.

Majority Support Liberalizing Prescription Drug Reimports Over two-thirds (68%) of Americans favor making it easier for people to buy lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada and other countries.

Three-quarters (75%) of baby boomers support making this easier, and men (71%) are slightly more favorable than women (65%). Both people who have taken prescription drugs (69%) and those who have not (66%) support allowing more prescription medicines to be bought abroad. People in the Western U.S. are also highly in favor (75%). Moreover, support for liberalizing prescription drug imports spans education and income. However, Republicans tend to be more opposed (33%) than Democrats (20%) toward allowing easier purchase of prescription drugs from abroad.

Methodology The Associated Press Poll is conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs. Between December 17-19, 2004, the AP-Ipsos poll interviewed a representative sample of 1,002 adults nationwide. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 for all adults. Margin of error for subgroups may be higher.

For more information on this press release, please contact: Janice Bell Director, Ipsos Public Affairs Washington, D.C. 202.463.7300

About Ipsos Public Affairs Ipsos Public Affairs, headquartered in Washington D.C., is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research company made up of campaign and political polling veterans as well as seasoned research professionals. The company conducts strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research but often elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research. It has offices in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, with affiliates around the world. Ipsos Public Affairs conducts national and international public opinion polling on behalf of The Associated Press, the world's oldest and largest news organization, and conducts the young voters poll for Newsweek.com. Ipsos Public Affairs is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group.

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