New Law in New York Requires Pharmacies to Quickly Notify Patients of Drug Recalls

October 18, 2019 by Dan McCue
Prescription medicine

A new law in New York State requires pharmacies to inform patients of Class I drug recalls made by the Federal Drug Administration within seven days.

Generally speaking, drug recalls occur when the quality or safety of a drug has been compromised. It can be due to the drug itself or its packaging and labeling.

Class I recalls are the most serious type, being defined by the FDA as a recall that involves “a dangerous or defective product that could cause serious health problems or death.” 

The severity of health risks associated with the use of these recalled drugs is particularly high for elderly patients and those taking long-term medications.

Prior to the passage of S.5091B/A.4781B, there was no requirement in New York State for pharmacies to communicate this information to patients who have received the recalled drugs.

“People deserve to know when a medication that’s supposed to make them feel better may actually make them sicker, and it’s common sense that pharmacies communicate that information to patients in real time,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement after signing the law this week. “This measure will help ensure patients get the facts about a recalled drug quickly so they can talk to their doctor about safer alternatives.”

The law takes effect immediately. The law requires pharmacies to contact patients by phone or mail.

State Sen. Leroy Comrie, who sponsored the bill in the state senate said, “every year, the FDA recalls thousands of potentially harmful prescription and over the counter drugs, though countless consumers are never made aware that their medication may be putting their health in danger.

“This new consumer protection law will put the onus of responsibility for monitoring and informing patients of significant prescription drug recalls on the pharmacies distributing them, so timely and effective patient notification and consultation occurs at the neighborhood level,” Comrie continued.

Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal, who sponsored the bill in the state’s lower chamber, said  pharmacies are often the last point of contact between a patient and their prescription.

“By enacting this legislation we reduce the likelihood of any New Yorker being exposed to harmful medication,” he said.

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