Modern pharmaceutical drugs have helped to treat and prevent illnesses that, in the past, may have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths or left patients suffering from debilitating physical or mental health conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also played an important role in ensuring that the drugs prescribed to patients in our country are safe and effective when used as intended.
However, it is not a perfect system. Unfortunately, dangerous drugs frequently make it to the U.S. market. These drugs may fail to effectively help patients and/or leave them with harmful side effects.
When this occurs, the drug can – and often is – recalled by the manufacturer either voluntarily, at the request of the FDA or – in rare cases – at the order of the FDA. In fact, according to a study published in 2012 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, there is at least one “clinically important” pharmaceutical drug recall in the country almost every month.
You may learn about a recall due to the heavy coverage it receives in the media or from your physician or pharmacist. You can also go to the FDA website and sign up to receive free and timely alerts when a drug has been recalled or when updates or notifications about a drug have been issued by the agency.
A question that many people have is, “What steps should I take if I discover that a medication I have been taking has been recalled?” Here are a few steps to consider:
1. Call your physician.
It is important that you contact the prescribing physician immediately. An evaluation of your current medical condition should be undertaken to determine whether you have any of the adverse effects that led to the recall of the drug.
2. Switch medications under your doctor’s supervision.
If the medication was used to manage a serious medical condition, you may need to get a prescription for a replacement drug so that your condition or illness continues to be managed. Don’t stop taking the medication as prescribed before you check with your doctor first. You do not want to suffer any health issues from ending your use of the drug without medical supervision.
3. Contact an attorney.
If you believe you have suffered side effects due to your use of a recalled medication, a lawyer will make sure your legal rights are fully protected. For instance, the manufacturer may have failed to provide a proper warning about a drug’s side effects before a recall was issued. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other harm you have suffered due to this inadequate warning.
Navigating the legal process in a drug injury case requires experience and a high level of legal skill. Make sure the lawyer you contact has experience in product liability cases.
4. Monitor your condition.
You may not immediately experience side effects. Some of the effects may only become apparent in the subsequent months or years. However, due to the recall, you should be on alert for changes in your condition. Learn about signs and symptoms associated with the drug’s side effects and contact a doctor if you become concerned.
In particular, pay close attention to any child, elderly person or disabled person whose impairment may prevent him or her from being able to recognize or communicate that they are experiencing side effects. It is advisable to undergo routine monitoring for a period of time after the recall is issued.