Some drug recalls slip through FDA-reporting cracks

The FDA needs a new recall-alert system, researchers say. That's because some drug recalls--even the most serious, Class I type--haven't been adequately aired. "[W]e anticipate that a lot of providers ... may not be getting the information they need when drugs are recalled," study author Joshua Gagne of Brigham & Women's Hospital said.

According to the Archives of Internal Medicine study, among the 91 Class I recalls from 2004 to 2011, 18 weren't reported via the agency's Recall Alert System or MedWatch Safety Alert system. Of the total, 55 were communicated via the Recall Alert System, while 18 went out via MedWatch.

Another issue, Gagne said, is that notice of serious drug recalls is lumped in together with a slew of less-important notices, including vet-drug recalls. The problem of recall notice could be obviated by an active, electronic drug-tracking system, but that's another story altogether.

An FDA spokeswoman pointed out that drug recalls are communicated via a variety of media, including news releases, emails, and Twitter. Plus, manufacturers are also responsible for disclosing recalls. Not to mention the fact that the agency has limited authority when it comes to recalls.

"I think the manufacturers should be ultimately responsible because the problem is with them," Wake Forest University professor Carl Furberg told ABC News. "They should be the ones communicating about recalls."

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