Revealing the "Con" in Consumer Reports

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  • 04/16/2007
Seems that at Consumer Reports, the adage “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies” has been replaced with “Ask loaded questions and there’s no need to lie.” No matter how you slice it, it equals the same thing – dishonest reporting.

Or as my grandmother used to say, "A half-truth is a whole lie."

Consider some of the findings from CR’s new survey:

* More than 60 percent of Americans agree that the Food and Drug Administration and Congress have failed to adequately protect consumers from harmful prescription drugs.

As opposed to what, “safe" prescription drugs? It doesn’t look like the survey asked respondents if they understood that all drugs have risks.


* 84 percent agree that advertisements for a prescription drug with safety concerns should be prohibited, with 59 percent "strongly agreeing" to such limits.

Again, as opposed to what, drugs that have no safety concerns?

* The survey also found that 84 percent of consumers agree that drug companies have too much influence over the government officials who regulate them. More than two-thirds (67 percent) are concerned that much of the FDA's funding comes from the pharmaceutical industry, with more than half--54 percent--"very concerned" about that situation.

How was this question worded? Did it make clear that PDUFA dollars fund review, not approval? I haven’t seen the survey questions, but I imagine it’s a “safe” bet that point wasn’t introduced into the protocol.

* More than half of consumers say they currently take a prescription drug, which translates to 124 million adults. A significant number -- -40 percent--say they have experienced an adverse reaction to a medication.

And what, precisely, did the survey define as an “adverse reaction?” Did they define it at all?

* Three-quarters of consumers (75 percent) agreed that drug ads lead to over-prescribing, with 38 percent "strongly agreeing."

Except that every survey of doctors says otherwise.

Here’s a link to the CR press release:

The release, BTW, does not say who funded the study or that Consumer Reports receives significant contributions from foundations funded by the generic drug industry. Surprising, considering that another of the “research” results says that Americans are concerned about conflicts of interest. What about CR’s funding conflicts?

Might that explain why CR took a break from testing vacuum cleaners and developed a sudden interest in the public's opinions on drug safety and the FDA? Inquiring minds want to know.

Research, as the saying goes, is like a bikini. What it shows you is interesting but what it conceals is essential.

And what this survey conceals are loaded questions fielded by an organization with an agenda.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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