The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging health care providers and consumers to stop using EzriCare Artificial Tears as it conducts an investigation into at least 50 infections in 11 states that have led to instances of permanent vision loss, hospitalization and one death.
Most of the people with these infections reported using artificial tears, and EzriCare was the most common brand, the agency says. These eye drops are preservative-free, meaning they don’t have ingredients to prevent bacterial growth.
Testing of open EzriCare bottles identified Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria that were resistant to carbapenem antibiotics as well as the antibiotics ceftazidime and cefepime. Testing of unopened bottles is ongoing, the CDC says.
“CDC recommends that clinicians and patients immediately discontinue the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears until the epidemiological investigation and laboratory analyses are complete,” the agency says.
New Jersey-based EzriCare says in a statement dated January 24 that it has not received any consumer complaints or adverse event reports.
“We have not been asked to conduct a recall. EzriCare does not manufacture the Lubricant Eye Drops,” the statement says.
“Nevertheless, and in an abundance of caution, EzriCare recommends that during this evolving situation you discontinue use of any portions of EzriCare Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops you may have until we can discover more details about any potential safety concerns.”
Pseudomonas bacteria are common in the environment, such as in soil and water. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is usually spread in health care settings, the CDC says, and is increasingly difficult to treat because of antibiotic resistance. It caused more than 32,000 infections in hospitalized patients and about 2,700 deaths in the US in 2017.