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OTC eye drop recall spreads, raises new alarms

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2023 | Product Liability

Most people can’t even imagine that something as simple as over-the-counter eye drops could turn deadly, but that’s exactly what has happened.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now investigating severe infections which have led to serious injuries, including blindness and deaths. U.S. authorities are now urging consumers to make sure that they don’t use any of the suspected contaminated products.

What’s happening to cause such damage?

According to the CDC, there are (as of this writing) 68 people who have been infected with a drug-resistant bacteria known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa after using several different brands of artificial eye drops or tears.

That particular bacteria is commonly associated with hospital-acquired infections, often spread through the reuse of contaminated medical equipment or unwashed hands. Once it enters the body, the bacteria can transfer from someone’s eyes to their lungs, blood and other organs, and it’s increasingly difficult to effectively treat. It’s the same bacteria that sickened more than 46,000 hospital patients in a 2012 outbreak and more than 32,000 in 2017.

Initially, victims of the contaminated drops commonly experienced redness in their eyes, eye pain, blurred vision and light sensitivity – but that’s only the beginning. Of the known people who have been infected with this bacteria strain now, at least eight have now lost some of their vision, four have had to have eyes surgically removed and three people have died. Infections have been identified in 16 states so far.

Currently, at least 10 different brands of eye drops have been identified as problematic, the vast majority of which were linked to an Indian-based pharmaceutical company called Global Pharma Healthcare and its subsidiaries. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the company failed in its obligation to do the necessary safety testing of its products.

Consumers have a right to expect pharmaceutical companies to be cautious and use their quality controls. When preventable injuries like these happen, it’s only right to hold negligent companies accountable.