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Drug recalls: Why they happen and what you can do

As a patient, you want to know that the drugs you take are safe. Medications do pass a number of stringent tests and standards, but that doesn't mean problems can't arise down the line. Here are a few common questions about drug recalls.

Why do drugs get pulled from the market?

The Food and Drug Administration regulates drugs. It's in charge of approving the drug as well as monitoring it for concerns after it reaches consumers. The FDA makes changes to the drugs' labels if there are new health risks or side effects discovered, so they can make an informed decision about using the drug. There are several reasons drugs might be pulled from the market including a risk for drug interactions that weren't previously recognized, packaging or manufacturing errors or a risk of health problems as a result of taking the drug.

What happens if a drug needs to be recalled?

The first thing that could happen is for the manufacturer to voluntarily recall an unsafe drug. This happens if the manufacturer gets an unusually large amount of complaints about the drug from patients or doctors. Research studies and clinical trials that show dangers and side effects of taking the drug may also prompt a recall.

If the FDA determines that a recall is necessary and the manufacturer has not issued or refuses to issue a recall, the FDA has the power to issue a mandatory recall. This isn't common, but when this form of recall takes place, the manufacturer has to take all necessary steps to take the drug off the market.

If you're hurt, your attorney can help you file a report; you may be able to claim against the manufacturer for your injuries and the losses to your income that resulted from using its product.

Source: FindLaw, "Why Drugs Get Pulled from the Market," accessed Sep. 12, 2016

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