What do you do if your medication is recalled?

When a drug is recalled, it’s usually a voluntary action taken by a company to remove a defective or potentially harmful drug product from the market. If the company does not issue the recall, the FDA can request that the medicine be recalled after receiving reports of problems from the public.

What do you do if your medication is recalled?

The first step is to get more information to be sure that it is your exact medication that is recalled. Sometimes it isn’t the entire product, but rather a particular lot or manufacturing period of time that is subject to the recall. Lot numbers are shown on the packaging— usually on one of a box side panel, at the end of a tube, or the back of a blister pack.

If your prescription is in a pharmacy pill bottle without a label on it, you’ll need to call your pharmacy to find out if your drug is part of the recall. They may be able to tell you the lot number for your prescription medications.

Manufacturers usually publish drug recall announcements on their websites. The FDA also publishes recall information of its website.

Once you know the exact medication that is recalled, call your doctor. You may want to stop taking the medication right away, but that may not be the safest decision. Recalls are usually for minor issues, so stopping taking the medication could be worse for you than continuing to take it. While over-the-counter drugs can be discontinued at will, some prescription drugs are critical for your health. Your doctor may tell you to continue taking the medication until they are able to find a replacement for you.

Next, safely disposing of your recalled medication will prevent you from accidentally taking it (and keep others from taking it). If your medication came with specific disposal instructions, follow them. Controlled substances need to be taken to an authorized take-back site to be disposed of properly, or you can put it in a sealed bag with cat litter or used coffee grounds before disposing of it in a trashcan.

What do you do if your think your medication has been recalled?

If you think your medication has been recalled, or if you experience any unusual symptoms that you think might be related to a recall, contact your doctor immediately. While you might like to throw out the original packaging, keeping it handy is a good idea in case your doctor needs it.

When you bring home new medication, you should always inspect it and pay attention to the packaging. If you notice that it doesn’t look or smell right, or if the packaging has been opened or looks like it’s been tampered with, contact your pharmacist.  Any adverse reactions or quality problems can be directly reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Reporting Program.