We trust in this country that when we consume prescribed or over-the-counter medication, we are taking action to improve our health.
But in fact, as our Rock Hill personal injury attorneys know, those medicines could end up making us sicker.
From October 2011 through March 2012, there were some 1,200 drug recalls issued in the United States. That's slightly less than the more than 1,600 drugs that were recalled the year before, but keep in mind there were just 870 medicine recalls the year before.
We reported last November in our South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog that one of these recalls involved a New England compounding pharmacy that produced injectable steroids that ended up sickening 650 people and killing at least 40.
Another recall involved the cholesterol drug Lipitor, when batches manufactured in India were found to have been contaminated with glass.
Those two recalls alone affected millions of people. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has often proven ineffective in releasing timely information about the potential risks of certain medications, as the agency often relies on manufacturers to self-report problems. Unsurprisingly, not many are eager to do so.
It's important for you as a consumer to understand too that just because a drug company has issued a recall, that firm is not free of liability if you have suffered some illness or injury as a result. Ultimately, these businesses are still responsible for the harm they cause.
As you strive to be a smart consumer, it's important to understand that there are actually three different categories of recalls - Class I, Class II and Class III.
Class I recalls are the most egregious, meaning use or consumption could result in serious harm or death. (The New England steroid recall was a Class I.)
Class II recalls are those issued when use of a drug could result in a temporarily adverse effect to your health.
Class III recalls are those in which the medicine may not have been produced according to certain standards, but it's unlikely to cause you harm.
So far this year, the FDA has announced two Class I recalls.
One of those involved a drug called Ferrous Sulfate, which is a natural iron supplement given to those with iron deficiencies. It was discovered that least one lot that was produced actually contained Meclizine HCI, which is an antihistamine that when taken in large doses has the potential to cause impaired alertness, confusion, low blood pressure, breathing trouble, coma and even death.
The second Class I recall announced so far this year involved a drug called Mitosol, a drug used to treat glaucoma, after the manufacturer alerted the FDA that some of the batches were found to have contained yeast, and were therefore possibly not sterile.
Keep in mind, though, the FDA's website might not always contain up-to-date information. If you are concerned about whether a medication you are taking may have been recalled, ask your pharmacist to confirm before you consume another dose. Most pharmacies will offer you replacement medications if the one you are taking has been recalled.
And if you have suffered some serious negative side effect as a result of taking a drug that has been recalled or that is later recalled, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible, as you may be entitled to compensation for what you have endured.