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Stop Using Eye Drops Following One Death, Dozens of Infections

  • Stop using eyedrops that may be linked to drug-resistant infections, the CDC said.
  • The recommendation is a precaution, after fifty patients tested positive for a drug-resistant bug.
  • Most patients used EzriCare Artificial Tears but it’s unclear if the product caused the outbreak.

People should “immediately” stop using eye drops that may be linked to drug-resistant infections, the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention said.

The recommendation is a precaution after “permanent vision loss” resulting from an eye infection was reported and one person died from a bloodstream infection, the CDC said. The patients tested positive for a multi-drug resistant bacterium. 

As of January 20, 50 people across 11 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and Washington) had tested positive for the bacterium, called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, according to the CDC.

The “majority” of patients with positive samples told the CDC that they had used eye drops prior to testing, and the most commonly mentioned brand was EzriCare Artificial Tears. The CDC said that samples were taken from patients in hospitals and outpatient clinics between May 2022 and December 2022.  

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause infections in the blood, lungs, or wounds, is becoming more difficult to treat as it’s evolving defense mechanisms against antibiotics, known as antibiotic resistance. The bacteria usually spreads to people in hospitals or other healthcare settings when they’re exposed to contaminated water or soil, where it typically lives, according to the CDC. 

The strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that was found is resistant to carbapenems, which are powerful antibiotics that kill bacteria that cause diseases like pneumonia, urine infections, and severe skin infections. It’s also resistant to two other antibiotics called ceftazidime, which doctors use for urine infections, meningitis and blood stream infections, and cefepime, which can also be used against urine infections.

The CDC is investigating if eye drops caused the outbreak

Lab tests on some opened bottles of EzriCare eye drops detected another type of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

That bacteria is undergoing further testing to confirm if it matches the outbreak strain, the CDC said. 

“Testing of unopened bottles of EzriCare Artificial Tears is ongoing,” it said.

Stop using EzriCare Artificial Tears as a precaution

In the meantime, the CDC said it “recommends that clinicians and patients immediately discontinue the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears until the epidemiological investigation and laboratory analyses are complete.”

EzriCare said in a statement on January 24 that the CDC hadn’t asked the company to recall products and it hadn’t received any “consumer complaints or adverse event reports related to the investigation.” 

“In an abundance of caution, EzriCare recommends that during this evolving situation you DISCONTINUE USE any portions of EzriCare Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops you may have until we can discover more details about any potential safety concerns,” it said.

Insider has contacted EzriCare for comment.

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