The Mercury News Weekend

Eye drops recalled after U.S. drug-resistant bacteria outbreak


U.S. health officials said Thursday a company is recalling its overthe-counter eye drops that have been linked to an outbreak of drug-resistant infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week sent a health alert to doctors, saying the outbreak included at least 55 people in 12 states. One died and at least five others had permanent vision loss.

The infections, including some found in blood, urine and lungs, were linked to EzriCare Artificial Tears. Many said they had used the product, which is a lubricant used to treat irritation and dryness.

The eye drops are sold under the name EzriCare and is made in India by Global Pharma Healthcare. The Food and Drug Administra­tion said the company recalled unexpired lots of EzriCare Artificial Tears and another product, Delsam Pharma's Artificial Tears.

The FDA recommende­d the recall based on manufactur­ing problems, including lack of testing and proper controls on packaging. The agency also blocked import into the United States. The infections were caused by a bacteria called Pseudomona­s aeruginosa. Investigat­ors detected it in open EzriCare bottles, but further testing was underway.

EzriCare, the company that markets the eye drops in the U.S., said it is not aware of any evidence definitive­ly linking the outbreak to the product, but that it has stopped distributi­ng the eye drops. It also has a notice on its website urging consumers to stop using the product.

Infections were diagnosed in patients in California, Colorado, Connecticu­t, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. A person in Washington died with a blood infection.

The outbreak is considered particular­ly worrisome because the bacteria driving it are resistant to standard antibiotic­s.

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