Consumers should receive more information about drugs and their potential side effects, a report released by the National Consumer Council said.
The report criticized drug companies and doctors for encouraging blind trust and leaving patients ignorant of the potential for drugs to cause illness.
"The consumer is like the person at the end of the line in Chinese whispers," said NCC chairman Lady Wilcox.
The report called for consumers to have more say in the regulation and control of prescription drugs. It complained that drug companies are allowed to keep ingredients and safety tests of specific drugs secret.
Both drugs companies, doctors and regulatory agencies "often given the impression that the person actually taking the medicine is best kept in the dark," said the NCC. "It is time consumers had more say in the regulation and control of prescription medicines."
The NCC called for more information when side effects occur, about what patients can do to recover. It also recommended that consumers have a say in the licensing process.
Copies of the study are available by sending a cheque for lb4 to: Pharmaceuticals,NCC, 20 Grosvenor Gdns, London SW1W 0DH.