Eye drops are linked to one death and vision loss, some of which are recalled.

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The maker of a brand of over-the-counter eye drops said it was recalling the product, Azricare Artificial Tears, after it was linked to a drug-resistant bacterial strain that killed at least one person and Five others lost their sight. ,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised people to stop using the eye drops as the agency investigates an outbreak of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause infections in the blood, lungs and other parts of the body. This strain of bacteria had never been identified in the United States prior to the current outbreak and is resistant to a class of antibiotics called carbapenems, which are generally considered a last resort.

The CDC said as of Tuesday the strain of bacteria had been found in 55 people in 12 states. The infection resulted in one death, five lost sight of 11 people who had eye infections, and some were hospitalized, the agency said.

Global Pharma, the Indian company that makes EzriCare eye drops, said it was withdrawing the eye drops “out of an abundance of caution”.

In an emailed statement, the company said, “Global Pharma is cooperating fully with US federal authorities, and is continuing to investigate this matter, but at this time we have not determined that our manufacturing facility was the source of the contamination.” Yes or No.”

The CDC said most people affected by the outbreak used artificial tears before the infection. The agency said they reported using more than 10 brands of artificial tears, and some patients used more than one, but Ezricare artificial tears is the most common brand.

The CDC said it had found a strain of drug-resistant bacteria in unopened bottles of Azricare eye drops collected from patients with and without eye infections. The agency is testing unopened bottles to determine whether contamination occurred during the manufacturing process.

The strain of bacteria was found in people in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin between May 2022 and January, according to the CDC. The agency said four were linked to health care facility clusters.

The CDC states that people who have used EzriCare artificial tears and who have symptoms of an eye infection should seek medical care immediately. Symptoms may include yellow, green or clear discharge from the eye, redness of the eye or eyelid, increased sensitivity to light, and eye pain or discomfort.

A spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Dr. Thomas L. Steinman said people don’t need to be “too concerned” about using other types of eye drops.

“We use them for tears, we use them for antibiotics, we use them to treat glaucoma.” Doctor. Steinman said. “We use eye drop bottles every day, and I think there is no cause for alarm for most users of eye drop bottles.”

Dr. Steinman, an ophthalmologist at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, said the CDC report stated that Ezricare artificial tears were preservative-free, meaning that, if contaminated, they would have the ability to prevent bacterial growth. nothing.

He said doctors often recommend preservative-free artificial tears to patients if they’re using them more than four times a day because preservatives can irritate the eyes. He said he had only heard of preservative-free eye drops that were available in single-use vials that could not be closed and reused later.

“What struck me when I read the CDC report was that, at least for Ezricare, these products are in what we call multidose bottles, which means people are reusing the bottle,” Dr. Steinman said. “But there’s no preservative in the bottle, which I think could set the stage for contamination or overgrowth of bacteria in the bottle.”

When people use any type of eye drops, Dr. Steinman said, they should wash their hands, close the bottle after use, and not touch the tip, as this will not sterilize the drops. There will be a risk of being “Don’t touch the bottle to your eye or your face or your nose,” he said.

Ezricare, a New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company, said in a statement on Wednesday that it does not manufacture the eye drops and is only involved in designing the product’s label and marketing it to customers.

Ezricare said it was first informed of the CDC investigation on January 20 and “took immediate action to stop any further distribution or sale of Ezricare Artificial Tears.” The company said it is trying to contact customers to ask them to stop using the eye drops.

Public health officials have warned that more efforts must be made globally to prevent the spread of drug-resistant infections, which occur when bacteria and fungi evolve to resist antibiotics and antifungal drugs that are designed to destroy them. has been developed for. Health officials have said that the more antibiotics and antifungal drugs are given to people and animals, the greater the chance of resistance.

Nearly 30,000 people in the United States died from drug-resistant infections in 2020, up 15 percent from 2019, according to a CDC analysis. This increase was mostly driven by the coronavirus, which in the early days of the pandemic was a mystery to medical professionals. Many turned to antibiotics to try to cure the disease before vaccines and other treatments were available.

Every year, more than 700,000 people worldwide die from drug-resistant infections. The United Nations warned in 2019 that without concerted action, these infections could kill 10 million people annually by 2050 and trigger a global economic crisis.

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