FDA recall
Medical Care

Responding to a Consumer Drug Recall

The summer of 2018, American consumers saw a number of larger drug recalls, including the contaminated valsartan medication found in July and the hydrochlorothiazide tablets that were mislabeled in August.

These two medications in particular impacted thousands of consumers with high blood pressure, and it’s worth noting that they also raised many general questions about consumer drug recalls. It is important that we, as consumers, understand how to react safely in the wake of a drug recall from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Here is what you should know.

Drugs can be recalled for a number of reasons. This is important to recognize because not every drug recall is issued due to health concerns. The main reasons for a drug recall are as follows:

  1. The packaging or labeling is misleading or defective.
  2. The product’s quality is lacking because of a manufacturing issue.
  3. The drug or its ingredients have been contaminated.
  4. The product was mislabeled.
  5. The drug threatens the health of patients.

Following the announcement of a drug recall, consumers should remain calm and avoid jumping to conclusions. Oftentimes, a batch of a drug is recalled and only a small percentage of patients taking the medication are affected. Before assuming that your medication has been recalled, it’s important to do your homework.recall

With any major recall, the FDA will publish a list of those medications affected on its website so that consumers can determine if their medication was recalled. To do this, you should identify the product name, company name, lot number and National Drug Code (NDC) on your medication bottle. If you can’t find this information on your prescription, call your local pharmacy and they will be able to provide you with the information that you need. Your pharmacist, the FDA, or the drug’s manufacturer may also contact you directly to inform you that your medication was recalled.

Once you determine that your prescription medication is on the FDA’s recall list, your next step is to consult your doctor. Do not stop taking the medication until you’ve talked to your doctor. Some medications are crucial enough for a patient’s health that even when recalled, you should remain taking them until instructed otherwise. Going off the medication could become its own health hazard. With the knowledge of your medical history and needs, your doctor will then be able to prescribe you an alternative medication.

If you determine that your over-the-counter medication has been recalled, stop taking the drug. You may be able to return it to the store for a refund or receive a replacement from the pharmacy where you made the original purchase.

After switching to an alternative medication, you should continue to remain vigilant. If you experience any adverse side effects or notice anything odd about a new medication, be sure to report it. Consumers play a big role when it comes to drug recalls.

The more feedback from consumers, the easier time the FDA has to identify and investigate medication issues. Should you accumulate medical bills because of side effects related to a medication, you may also choose to seek legal counsel and potentially win reparations for any harm done.

For more information about consumer drug recalls or to stay up-to-date on recent recalls, subscribe to the FDA’s newsletter or follow them on Twitter here.

As a Health & Safety Investigator for ConsumerSafety.org, Caitlin Hoff uses her background in Industrial Design and her passion for health and wellness to educate consumers. She strives to help people make smart decisions affecting their personal health and that of their families.

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