What to do when your medication is recalled
Drug recalls happen more frequently than most people realize. In fact, earlier this year multiple high blood pressure medications containing valsartan, losartan, or irbesartan were recalled within the same week.
While not all drug recalls are dangerous to patients, it’s important to be informed. If one of your medications is recalled, here is what you need to know.
What is a drug recall?
A drug recall is when a prescription (like Simvastatin, Lisinopril, or Levothyroxine) or over the counter medication (e.g., acetaminophen, or ibuprofen) is removed from the market because it is believed to be defective or potentially harmful. Manufacturers can issue recalls voluntarily, or the FDA can requested them. Reasons for drug recalls include:
- Unexpected side effects
- Label or packaging issues
- Potential contamination
- Poor manufacturing quality
- Health hazards
How will I know if my drug is recalled?
Pharmacies will usually try to notify patients via phone, text, or in person. However, that only applies to prescription medications, and not all pharmacies have the resources to contact customers about recalls. Also, not every state requires that pharmacies notify patients of recalls.
That’s why, if you take any medication regularly, it is important to be proactive and keep an eye out for drug news and information that pertains to you. The FDA keeps a running list of all recalled medications on their website. You can also check the drug manufacturer’s website. Most major recalls will also be reported on social media or in the news.
What should I do if my medication is recalled?
First, call your doctor. They will be able to give you a prescription replacement or provide recommendations for alternatives to over the counter medications. Importantly, talk with your physician before you stop taking your medication. Sometimes stopping a medication can actually worsen symptoms and can even be life-threatening.
You can also contact your pharmacist to verify if your batch of medications was recalled. The pharmacist can also help you locate the manufacturer, lot number, and expiration date of your prescription medications. The lot number indicates which batch your medication came from.
If it’s an over-the-counter medication, check the packaging as this information may already be listed.
Your pharmacist may also help you find your medication from another manufacturer.
If your medication is recalled, you should safely dispose of the drug. Ideally, this means taking it back to the pharmacy. Most stores will even issue a refund for recalled medications.
Otherwise, check your medication label or packaging for instructions on disposal. Rarely should medications be flushed down the toilet.
Even if your drugs haven’t been recalled, it is important to stay vigilant with your health. If you notice anything unusual with medications or containers (such as tampering, unusual odor, or contamination), talk with your pharmacist before taking it. Adverse reactions can also be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch website.
Additionally, our drug lookup tool enables you to find information about your prescription medications, including interactions, side effects, and more. You’ll also be able to compare prices to to help you save on your prescriptions.