Modern pharmaceutical drugs are designed to help prevent and treat illnesses that decades or more ago may have caused patients to suffer debilitating conditions or even death. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays a crucial role in ensuring these drugs are safe and effective before they go to market.
Even with these safeguards in place, unfortunately some dangerous drugs enter the market and into the hands of consumers. When drugs placed on the market fail to help patients or cause them harmful side effects, often a recall is issued in one of three ways: voluntarily by the manufacturer, at the FDA’s request, or by order from the FDA in rare cases. In some cases, if a medical provider continues to offer the dangerous drug to a consumer, it may be the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Sometimes a drug recall receives extensive coverage in the media which ends up informing many consumers and the general public. Other times, you may receive notification of a recall from your physician or pharmacist. You can also be notified about recalls by visiting the FDA website where you can sign up to receive free alerts when a drug recall occurs or when the FDA issues notifications or updates about a particular drug.
So, what are the steps you should take if you find out the medication you are currently taking has been recalled?
1. Call your doctor
Contact the physician who prescribed you the drug immediately. Your doctor should make an evaluation of your current condition and determine whether you are experiencing any of the adverse side effects indicated in the recall notice.
Find out if the recall falls under the category of Class I, Class II, or Class III. A Class I drug recall will likely not lead to negative health consequences. However, a Class II recall could cause serious health issues or possibly death. Every drug recall is different. In the press release from the FDA about the recall drug, directives will be provided about the next actions to take, whether that means continuing to take the prescription and monitoring your reactions to it, or to cease taking the drug immediately.
2. Change medications only under your doctor’s direction and supervision
If the recalled medicine was being used to treat or manage a serious medical condition, you may need to obtain a prescription for a suitable replacement drug to keep your condition managed properly. Check with your doctor first before taking the medication in the same manner as prescribed previously.
3. Check for any changes in your condition
You may not experience side effects immediately. Some may only manifest weeks, months, or even years later. However it is important to monitor your condition for any changes. Your doctor should be able to inform you about the potential negative side effects of the drug.
Monitoring a child, elderly person or someone disabled is particularly important if any of these have been taking the recalled drug.
4. Contact an attorney
If you are confident that a recalled drug you have been taking has led to the negative side affects you are experiencing, an experienced attorney can help you understand your options, which may involve filing a product liability lawsuit.