Whether you’re using a medication as an ongoing treatment for a medical condition or it’s a short term treatment, you need to take drug recalls seriously. A drug recall is like a fire drill: it may be because the manufacturer failed a portion of an assessment, or it could be because an incorrect ingredient was used. No matter what, it needs to be addressed for your safety.
How to Find Recalls
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) keeps a current list of drug recalls that is updated as soon as a recall takes affect. It lists the date of the recall, the brand name, product description, the reasoning, and the company (should it differ from the brand name). This information is important because the recall may not affect you in the least. Some of the information is vitally important, such as the description and reason. The recall may be specific to a certain dosage and not affect you at all. It could be caused for a reason that doesn’t affect you or your medication, but it's always better to be safe in the case of any recall.
Common Reasons for Recalls
Although the FDA is charged with the task of making sure America’s food and drugs meet certain standards for general health and protection, it isn’t the FDA’s job to issue drug recalls. A recall is actually a voluntary action taken by the drug company itself. They may come to this decision on their own, or by FDA request, and then the FDA oversees the process and classifies the recall for severity and public safety.
A Class I Recall means the product is dangerous or defective and can cause serious or fatal health problems. Examples might include mislabeling one medication for another or empty capsules that would lead to a missed dose.
A Class II Recall means the product may cause temporary health problems or pose a slight threat of a serious nature. An example might be a mislabeled measuring cup for a liquid medication or tiny particles in the vials of injectable medications.
A Class III Recall means the product isn’t likely to cause an adverse health reaction, but violates FDA labeling and manufacturing laws. An example of a Class III recall would be a transdermal patch leaking medication gel. The medication would still be effective, and risks of complications due to the problem are unlikely.
What You Can Do
If your medication has been recalled, you can call your doctor’s office or pharmacy and find out the severity of the problem and what to do. If your medication is an over-the-counter medication, stop it at once. You can receive a refund at most stores when a drug is recalled. The manufacturer may also provide a hotline for more information. You may call the hotline and decide that you can still use the medicine. For instance, the packaged medication cup has improper measurements, but you have another one onhand that you can use. In cases such as this, the problem isn’t life-threatening or severe. In other cases, the recall may put your life at risk, and should be taken seriously. Ask your doctor about drug recalls and your clinic’s protocol next time you’re in the office.