All prescription drugs that desire to be marketed in the U.S. must gain the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Through the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), which assures that safe and effective drugs are available to the American people, a prescription drug must pass a series of trials. Please understand that the FDA does not develop, manufacture or test drugs. Drug manufacturers submit full reports of a drug’s studies to the CDER so that the Center can evaluate its data. The studies answer the question, “Does this drug work for the proposed use?” By analyzing the data, CDER reviewers assess the benefit-to-risk relationship and determine if the drug will be approved. Once the drug has been placed on the market, the FDA continues to monitor it through post-marketing reports sent in by the manufacturer and through the MedWatch program – an FDA program that allows consumers and health care professionals to report serious side effects, quality control issues, and medical errors associated with drugs and products regulated by the FDA.
Sometimes, an unanticipated side effect manifests itself once the drug has been made available to the U.S. market. If the side effect is serious enough, the FDA may issue a warning to the public and request that changes be made to the drug’s label. If the side effect is extremely serious and the FDA decides that the risks of the drug outweigh its benefits, then the FDA may recall the drug.
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