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 four 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 serious adverse drug reactions (ADRs).

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

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. Benzodiazapine Withdrawal Syndrome is a good example.

2 – Presentation

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).

3 – Research, Report and Advocate

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 serious ADRs as a consumer (parent, guardian or caregiver) to the government regulator of the pharmaceutical industry in their country.

Health Canada defines a serious ADR as a noxious and unintended response to a drug that occurs at any dose and that:

  • Requires in-patient hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization;
  • Causes congenital malformation;
  • Results in persistent or significant disability or incapacity;
  • Is life-threatening; or
  • Results in death.

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.

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


Promote KNOW YOUR DRUGS DAY on November 6, which is the date that Vanessa’s Law received Royal Assent 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

The executive director is David Carmichael.


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.