The public’s confidence in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration appears to be rebounding after two years in decline, but the agency has more work to do. Half of all adults in the U.S. still believe the FDA is doing only a fair or poor job when it comes to ensuring the safety and efficacy of new prescription drugs, according to a Harris Interactive survey. Nearly six in ten give the agency negative ratings on ensuring that truly innovative drugs come to market more quickly.

New provisions were recently passed by the U.S. Senate through the Food & Drug Administration Revitalization Act that would give the FDA new powers, including the ability to issue fines to drug companies if they fail to do follow-up safety studies or use false or misleading advertising. The Senate also passed legislation that would establish electronic networks to scan medical and prescription drug records for indications of drug safety issues.

The public’s perceptions of these initiatives are ambivalent at best: half of all adults are confident that that these oversight mechanisms would help improve drug safety. Public opinion is split as to whether or not allowing the FDA to issue fines would limit people’s access to new and innovative treatments. Equally large numbers of adults worry that establishing systems to scan medical and pharmacy records for indications of safety issues would limit innovation.