An interesting article appeared this week in Yahoo Health News speculating on the confidence that patients and consumers might be losing in the claims associated with treatments and goods.
The article cites a few high profile drug reversals, such as COX-2s and Hormone Replacement Therapy that have probably served to shake confidence. While the article doesn’t cite many examples, there actually are a lot of examples, not confined to drugs, but to vitamin and supplement use and even some consumer goods. Recently a study came out stating that a little excess weight is not harmful while this week another study was released saying that it is.
What is a non-scientist to believe?
I don’t know the answer to that question, but it does raise a serious point. Industry and the FDA both have a huge interest in discovering the answer to what types of events and announcements do impact the opinion of patients. It would be ideal to establish a benchmark and then to issue an annual report card – one that not only looked at prevailing confidence levels, but also dug a little to determine what the impact of events has been in shaping those levels. In a way, it would be like consumer confidence reports in the economy, only these would be a measurement in the state of confidence on scientific research.
Because being in a business that relies on such studies to create or regulate products, it is information that could shed a great deal of light on marketing, regulatory actions and communications. Studies on the impact of studies would provide strategic insight well worth the price.