According to new FDA data, consumers like you make up the majority of drug adverse event reports submitted, replacing physicians. FDAnews reports that in 1998, consumers submitted about half the number of adverse event reports submitted by physicians. But in 2006, the trend reversed. In 2007, consumers submitted about 174,000 adverse event reports to the FDA compared to 53,000 completed by physicians.

The growth rate of consumer reporting is nearly four times the growth rate for physicians and other health care providers! Pharma Marketing Blog provides a nice chart of the increase in report rate.

Could this growing trend of consumer reporting mean you are more aware of drug safety issues, as the FDA speculates? That may be true for some, but the majority of us still don’t know about the FDA’s reporting system.

Yet it seems that we hear of a new drug safety risk everyday. On Monday the FDA warned us of an increased risk of death associated with older antipsychotics such as thorazine and prolixin in off-label uses for seniors with dementia. The agency urged the drug manufacturer to issue a new black box warning label.

It’s great that we’re submitting more reports to the FDA’s MedWatch program than previously. But drug companies spend billions on direct-to-consumer ads that only tell you part of the story.

Under pressure from Washington, a few top drug makers have agreed to a six-month moratorium on some direct-to-consumer ads. This agreement places restrictions on ads for new drugs, not all ads that target us, and only for a limited time period.