Know Your Drugs is a global awareness campaign that was developed by Canadians for Vanessa’s Law in collaboration with RxISK.

Vanessa’s Law (Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act) is named after Vanessa Young, who died on March 19, 2000 when she was 15 years old of a heart attack caused by Prepulsid, a prescription drug that Health Canada removed from the market on August 7, 2000.

Vanessa’s father Terence Young, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Oakville, Ontario from 2008 to 2015, introduced the federal law as a Private Member’s Bill (C-17) on December 6, 2013. It received Royal Assent on November 6, 2014 after being passed unanimously in the House of Commons and Senate.

There are five components to this global awareness campaign that you can get involved with:

1 – Promote

Promote the Know Your Drugs global awareness campaign.

The information and links at KnowYourDrugs.org will help save lives and make people more aware of the need for them to research the side effects of prescription drugs they are taking, and to report suspected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) to government regulators of the pharmaceutical industry.

Anyone considering altering the dosage of a prescription drug they are taking, or withdrawing from it, should seek medical advice first.

Two sources for information on withdrawing from prescription drugs are TaperMD and the Canadian Deprescribing Network.

Withdrawal side effects, which are also important to report, can be severe and last a long time, which makes many people think their illness, disease or disorder is getting worse again. Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome is an example. Fortunately, there are organizations, such as the Psychiatric Medication Awareness Group, that provide tips on recovering from benzodiazepines.

2 – Presentations and Tour

Share the Know Your Drugs video presentation. The first part of the presentation explains why it is important to “know your drugs” and the last part explains how to “know your drugs” as a consumer (parent, guardian or caregiver).

David Carmichael, Executive Director of Canadians for Vanessa’s Law, is currently delivering the presentation Preventing Another Opioid Crisis, which provides insight into the fraudulent concealment of negative clinical trial data by pharmaceutical companies and how they falsely promote the benefits of prescription drugs.

David will be delivering this presentation at public discussions about prescription drug safety during his Know Your Drugs cross-Canada tour, which will be starting in Halifax, Nova Scotia on September 14, 2021 and ending in Victoria, British Columbia on June 23, 2022.

Contact us if you would like David to deliver this presentation virtually or in your community.

3 – Research and Report

Encourage family and friends to research prescription drug side effects, which will help them make informed choices about prescription drug use, and to report suspected ADRs as a consumer (parent, guardian or caregiver) to the government regulator of the pharmaceutical industry in their country.

Before they submit a government report, it might be helpful for them to get a free RxISK Report which determines how likely it is that an adverse reaction was caused by a drug side effect.

4 – Advocate and Stories

Advocate for the hospital and doctors in your community to report suspected ADRs to the government regulator of the pharmaceutical industry in your country.

Too often, ADRs become tragic stories.

5 – Know Your Drugs Day

Promote Know Your Drugs Day on November 6, which is the date that Vanessa’s Law received Royal Assent and became a federal law in 2014.

On this day annually, people in countries around the world will be encouraged to research the side effects of prescription drugs at RxISK.org.


Even though Know Your Drugs Day is just one day a year, it is important for people to research drug side effects frequently.


Canadians for Vanessa’s Law is the lead charitable organization for the Know Your Drugs global awareness campaign.

The Board of Directors are:

  • Dr. Nancy Olivieri
  • Dr. Elia Abi-Jaoude
  • Dr. Leslie Balmer
  • Dr. Joel Lexchin


Canadians make informed choices about prescription drug use.


Helping Canadians make informed choices about prescription drug use by educating them about Vanessa’s Law and prescription drug safety.


To advance education by providing educational materials, presentations, workshops, and consultations to Canadians on the:

  • Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act (Vanessa’s Law) and its implications on Canada’s healthcare system;
  • Safe and effective use of prescription drugs; and
  • Risks and benefits of prescription drugs.


RxISK is owned and operated by Data Based Medicine Americas Ltd., based in Toronto, Canada.

The founding members of the medical and research team are:

  • Dr. David Healy
  • Dr. Derelie (Dee) Mangin
  • Dr. Kalman Applbaum
  • Dr. Ralph Edwards
  • Dr. Brenda Gallie
  • Robert Whitaker
  • Dr. Joanna Le Noury
  • Dr. Nancy Olivieri

RxISK.org is a free, independent website where people can research prescription drugs and report a drug side effect – identifying problems and possible solutions when it might still be possible to intervene and find a solution.