You may have seen in the news recently all the information around the medication recall for valsartan (a blood pressure medication). That has prompted many to ask us in the pharmacy… what is a medication recall?

First off, be assured that all FDA approved medications are thoroughly tested not only to make sure that they work, but also to make sure that they are safe to take. Once a medication has been approved for use, both the manufacturer and the FDA continues to monitor for unexpected safety issues. When a safety concern is identified a recall is announced. Sometimes there are public reported issues with taking the medications, sometimes the manufacturers discover defects.

Some reasons for medication recalls include;

  • Health concerns – Though all medications are tested for safety initially, it is not until long term use that other safety concerns are often realized.
  • Misbranding – Sometimes a medication is recalled because of incorrect labeling or packaging.
  • Contamination – Medications can often become contaminated with unintended products during production or distribution.

If the recall involves an over-the-counter drug that you are taking, stop taking it at once. You can usually return the product to the place of purchase and ask for a refund — stores generally have return and refund policies when a recall has been issued. Your pharmacist can recommend an alternative medicine to use during the recall. Manufacturers will also have a hotline number to contact for more information.

If the recall involves a prescription drug, call your pharmacist as soon as possible to find out what replacement is needed and how to return the product. Again, the manufacturers will also have a hotline number to contact for additional information.

Keep in mind that medication recalls are very rare, there are many steps in place to ensure your safety… recalls are just one of those steps.

Have a great end of summer everyone!

Jason Miller, Pharm. D.
Pharmacy Clinical Program Manager

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