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What do I do if my medication is recalled?

People have a reasonable expectation that the medications they take are safe and will help them. Though that is the aim, unfortunately, mistakes do happen, and a drug that was meant to heal a patient can actually end up causing harm. The effects of such an error can often be devastating to the patient and his or her family.

If you take any kind of medication, you might wonder how a recall could affect you. Experts say that there are several steps you can take and you should gain information that might help reassure you if there is a recall for one of your medications.

What to do if you receive a recall on your medication

  • Don't be alarmed – medication recalls are relatively common and may not always spell disaster.
  • Keep taking your meds – though this might surprise you, doctors say to keep taking your prescribed medicine for the time being.
  • Call your doctor or pharmacist – either of these people should be able to advise you of what to do next.
  • Follow your medical professional's suggestions – this may seem obvious, but it is important, and if you have any doubts, consult a different medical professional.

How often do recalls occur?

Despite what you may think, drug recalls happen more often than we realize. Most of the recalls are for minor issues that may not result in any major problems. The recall might happen because wording has been changed on an accompanying information packet and the manufacturer has to issue a recall because of it. Recalls happen more often with generic drugs, but that is due to the fact that there are so many of them available.

When a major recall happens, it can cause a great deal of media coverage, and rightly so. A particularly dangerous drug or medical device will often make the news because of the number of people affected and how severe those effects are. Recalls are voluntary, but drug companies will generally comply with the recommendations of the Food and Drug Administration to keep consumers safe.

How will I know about a recall?

Generally, you will receive notification of a recall either by a letter from your drug's manufacturer or from your doctor. Your pharmacist may also inform you about what's going on. Though people sometimes hear about recalls of their medication on the news, most people will receive notification before that happens. The FDA also lists recalled medications on its website.

Despite all of these precautions, medication errors can still occur. If you've been hurt by a dangerous medication, you may need long-term medical care to deal with the aftereffects. No one should ever have to suffer due to a careless manufacturer's mistake.

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