Report on Improving Public Understanding of FDA-Regulated Products

The Reagan-Udall Foundation hosted a virtual public meeting on October 5th, 2023 to share findings from the report “Strategies for Improving Public Understanding of FDA-Regulated Products”. The study, commissioned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), examined how consumers and stakeholders “find, consume, and perceive health information” and offered recommendations to improve public understanding of FDA-regulated Products.  

Robert Califf, M.D. Commissioner of the FDA, asked the foundation to research how the American public, and specifically consumers and health professionals, discover the information that determines health decisions they make for themselves, their families and patients. The report produced three key recommendations: (1) proactively “pre-bunking” health misinformation, (2) leveraging more communication channels to the public, and (3) building trust by emphasizing transparency.   

In his remarks, Commissioner Califf explained how the concept of misinformation is not abstract. “We are seeing a decline in life expectancy like we’ve never seen before, concentrated in areas where the people are most prone to be susceptible to misinformation.” This emphasizes the increasing importance of the FDA’s need to address this issue. 

He further highlighted the necessity of using plain language when communicating with the public by explaining how misinformation plagues other industries outside of medicine as well. Industries including food and tobacco, which individuals interact with on a daily basis, are also plagued by misinformation which may lead to decisions being made resulting in negative consequences on health outcomes.   

Although taking on this misinformation epidemic is daunting, the Commissioner was “heartened by the optimism” of the commentators and  the suggestions posed by Reagan-Udall Foundation’s report. There is still much progress to be made in addressing such, but agencies and Congress working collaboratively can ensure success against the battle of misinformation.