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What should you do if a medication you're taking is recalled?

Learning that a medication you are using has been recalled can be frightening. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversees the safety of both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. It may recall a drug for a number of reasons. Some are potentially more serious than others. They include the following:

-- The drug may present health risks that were previously not known.

-- The drug may be contaminated with either a harmful or non-harmful substance. Many of our readers remember the tragic Tylenol poisoning that claimed three lives in the Chicago area back in 1982.

-- There may be a manufacturing defect that impact's the drug's potency, purity and/or quality.

-- The medication contained inside may be different than the packaging indicates.

-- There may be confusing or inaccurate dosing or other instructions on the label or packaging.

When you learn that a medication you are taking has been recalled, read the recall information carefully. Don't panic. Many recalls of drugs, as noted above, are not due to serious potential health risks.

Whether the recall is for a prescription or OTC drug, stop taking it immediately. If it's a prescription drug that you are currently taking, contact your physician as soon as possible. He or she may be able to prescribe a different medication. If the recall is for an OTC drug, find out what the return and refund procedures are. They are usually on the manufacturer's and/or the FDA website. Again, your doctor should be able to recommend a different medication if you need one.

Even if you are no longer taking the recalled drug, check to make sure you don't still have any in your medicine cabinet, purse or elsewhere. Otherwise, you could forget about the recall and take it later.

Be careful about how you dispose of any recalled drugs. Don't just toss them in the trash, particularly if you have children. It's also generally not advisable to flush them down the toilet. If you have questions about how to safely dispose of a recalled (or any) drug, the FDA has a page on its website on how to dispose of medication.

Sadly, in some cases, drug recalls aren't issued until someone has been harmed or worse. If that's the case for you or a loved one, it's essential to find out what your legal options are for holding the manufacturer and/or other entities liable.

Source: WebMD, "What Is a Drug Recall?," accessed July 30, 2015

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