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Drug Safety

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Before any drug can be sold in the United States, it must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is true whether it's a prescription or an over-the-counter drug. The FDA evaluates both the effectiveness and safety of a drug by looking at:

  • How animal testing and human clinical trials affect the condition the drug is treating
  • If any side effects occur
  • How it's manufactured
  • What the labeling says

The FDA also monitors a drug's safety after approval. Health care providers and patients can report drug side effects through the FDA's MedWatch website.

For you, drug safety means buying online only from licensed pharmacies located in the United States. It also means knowing how to take your medicines correctly.

Start Here

  • Buying and Using Medicine Safely (Food and Drug Administration)
  • FDA Pharmacists Help You Use Medicines Safely (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish

Related Issues

  • Drug Development Process (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Is It Really FDA Approved? (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
  • MedWatch, the FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Postmarket Drug Safety Information for Patients and Providers (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts (Food and Drug Administration)


  • Generic Drugs Undergo Rigorous FDA Review (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Generic Drugs: Questions & Answers (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
  • How to Buy Medicines Safely from an Online Pharmacy (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
  • Quick Tips for Buying Medicines Over the Internet (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

  • Article: Counterfeit Healthcare Products: Nepal at a Vulnerable Position.
  • Article: Comparing the return on investment of technologies to detect substandard and...
  • Article: Environmental DNA as an innovative technique to identify the origins of...
  • Drug Safety -- see more articles

Find an Expert

  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Institute for Safe Medication Practices
  • SafeMedication.com (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists)

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.