What Should I Do If a Drug I'm Taking Is Recalled?

We trust our physicians to know what’s best for our bodies. When they prescribe medicine, we take it on faith that it will make us better and not worse. If a drug you have been prescribed has been recalled, don’t panic or become unduly alarmed. Sometimes companies issue recalls because of the likelihood of an interaction or negative reaction; it doesn’t mean you will definitely have adverse side effects. Other times, recalls happen because of a small side effect that is concerning to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

When Drugs Are Recalled

Prescription and over-the-counter medication are recalled for a spectrum of reasons. Sometimes, the manufacturer issues the recall, and other times the FDA requires them. Here are a few reasons a drug might be recalled.

  • The FDA discovered a safer drug alternative
  • The drug had possibly dangerous side effects
  • Improper use of the medication caused serious injury or death
  • A batch of the drug was somehow contaminated or there was a manufacturing error

Steps to Take When a Drug Has Been Recalled

If the drug was an over-the-counter medication, stop taking it immediately. If you rely on consistent use of the drug, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about an alternative medication that can help you. Take the drug back to the store where you purchased it for a refund. Most stores have return policies on recalled medication. If you decide not to return the medication to the store, properly dispose of it as soon as possible. Some communities have places to discard unused medication to stop it from entering lakes and streams.

If you’ve discovered a recall on a prescription medication you are taking, call your doctor as soon as possible to discuss another medication you can take in its place.

The Severity of the Recall

Considering how many things can lead to a recall, keep this classification system in mind to understand your risk if you have taken a recalled drug:

  • Class I: There is a reasonable risk that someone’s exposure to or use of this drug can seriously affect a person’s health, even leading to death.
  • Class II: Use or exposure to a drug in a Class II recall means there may be temporary or reversible health issues associated with the drug. The risk that it will cause serious health issues is small.
  • Class III: It’s unlikely that the drug will cause adverse health issues.
  • Market Withdrawal: The manufacturer decides to withdraw the drug from the market for a minor reason, one the FDA wouldn’t typically monitor, such as an issue with tampering when the medication itself is fine.

There are three circumstances that lead to drug recalls. The first is when the manufacturer voluntarily recalls a drug, as in the case above. This is the most common occurrence of a recall. The second situation is when the FDA finds a problem with a drug and requests the manufacturer issue its recall. If the manufacturer refuses to recall the drug, it can lead to the third situation for which a drug can be recalled; the FDA takes the drug maker to court to stop the continuation of the drug and seize any remaining drugs.

Drug recalls can be unsettling because they make us question the resources we use to stay healthy. If you’ve had adverse side effects after taking a recalled drug, discuss the situation with one of our skilled attorneys during a free consultation. If you’re suffering the lingering effects of a bad medication, it is unlikely you are the only one. Our West Virginia products liability lawyers have information on drug recalls and drug interactions that may help you build your case against a big pharmaceutical company.