Confidence in the FDA has hit bottom. The latest survey on trust in the FDA comes from HarrisInteractive, who regularly surveys the public’s faith in the regulator.

Consumers see the FDA’s #1 job as “ensuring the safety and efficacy of new prescription drugs,” cited by 61% of the public; however, 58% of people have a negative view of the FDA’s role in this job, compared to only 35% who think positively about the FDA’s performance in this key role.

This latest drop in confidence in the FDA is driven by the Heparin scare, blogged about here in Health Populi back in November 2007.

Other factors eroding confidence in the FDA include toy safety, food safety, the recent toothpaste scare, and perceived lags in approving necessary drugs.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Lack of trust in our institutions is driving people toward nodes of positive trust: first and foremost, to “people like me.” I continue to refer to the Edelman Trust Barometer on this issue, a source the I trust.

People have lived with risk in daily life since Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden of Eden. There is a rising wave of risks, at least as we perceive them, in our daily lives. The sub-prime mortgage crisis leads us to mistrust financial services companies. The rising price of gas drives us to mistrust oil companies. Health insurance denials for care and increasing health costs compel us to mistrust insurance companies and those who supply products to the industry.

Risk management requires us to seek information that helps us manage those risks on a daily basis. Increasingly, people are looking for trustworthy sources in new places, offline and online. But in the case of the FDA, which is charged with protecting the public’s health, where else can we turn? Whether it’s to assess E. coli or new meds or that new toy, we need a vigilant, productive, and effective FDA in our corner. And, for now, 2 in 3 Americans is frustrated with the agency that’s supposed to protect them.