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Who can I report defective products to and how do I do it?

Product recalls are reported in the news or added to the Food and Drug Administration's website on a regular basis. The purpose behind these recalls is for consumers to be made aware of any possible problems with their purchases and to provide them with the steps necessary to return or dispose of this merchandise. Anytime a product, no matter what it is, is found to be defective or dangerous, it should be reported so that -- if appropriate -- a recall can be issued. However, few consumers in Hawaii and elsewhere know whom to report these defective products to or how to do it.

The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has a program in place for the specific purpose of reporting problems with products. That program is known as MedWatch. MedWatch can be used to report a number of issues for a variety of products, including medical devices and drugs, over-the-counter supplements, foods, baby formula and cosmetics.

To report a defective product, an Adverse Event Report must be filled out. This form can be found online and can be submitted electronically or by mail. It is also possible to report the problem by calling the FDA directly. For issues with medical devices, complaints can also be made to health care providers who may file a complaint with supporting documentation, if they so choose.

While product manufacturers do have a responsibility to provide safe merchandise, defective products can make their way into consumers' hands. Hawaii residents who have suffered any injuries by using a dangerous or defective product may be entitled to pursue legal action against the manufacturer and/or others in the supply chain. Legal complaints that are successfully managed may result in financial compensation to provide for any damages sustained as a result.

Source: fda.gov, "How Consumers Can Report an Adverse Event or Serious Problem to FDA", , Oct. 9, 2014

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