Indian eyedrops link to dozens of infections in United States
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US Health experts on Tuesday held that contaminated eyedrops imported from India are linked to dozens of infections, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
At least 58 Americans have been infected, including at least one who died and at least five who suffered permanent vision loss.
According to an ‘Associated Press’ report that depicts how officials cracked case of eyedrops that blinded people.
Disease experts managed to figure out that contaminated eyedrops imported from India were linked to dozens of infections. At last count, 58 Americans were infected, including at least one who died and at least five who suffered permanent vision loss. https://t.co/9BvAAAngnT— The Associated Press (@AP) February 28, 2023
The patients’ eyes were painfully inflamed. They could sense light but could see almost nothing else. A doctor called one case the worst eye infection he’d ever seen.
It was the beginning of a national outbreak caused by an extremely worrisome bacteria — one that some say heralds an era in which antibiotics no longer work and seemingly routine infections get horribly out of hand.
At last count, 58 Americans in 13 states have been infected, including at least one who died and at least five who suffered permanent vision loss. All have been linked to tainted eyedrops, leading to a recall.
Experts marvel at how disease detectives pieced together the case: Patients were scattered across the country. The illnesses occurred over the span of months. The infections were found in different parts of the body — in the blood of some patients, in the lungs of others.
But scientists also shudder, because they have long worried common bacteria will evolve so that antibiotics no longer work against them.
The Pseudomonas bacteria is “pretty much everywhere” in India and the drug-resistant germ is common in many hospitals, said Dr. Gagandeep Kang, who studies microbes in the Christian Medical College in the same state as Global Pharma’s factory.
In January, genetic sequencing confirmed the Florida cases were caused by the same bacteria strain as the clusters in California, Connecticut and Utah. On Jan. 20, the CDC urged doctors to avoid recommending the EzriCare product.
There was no recall or widespread public notice, however. Investigators had strong circumstantial evidence pointing toward the EzriCare drops, but didn’t get more conclusive proof until more than a week later after testing found the bacteria in seven open bottles of EzriCare Artificial Tears in Connecticut and New Jersey.
In early February, CDC officials issued a public health alert and the FDA recalled the EzriCare eyedrops and Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears, another product made by Global Pharma. Last week, the recall was expanded to include Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Eye Ointment.
A month before the first recall, the FDA blocked imports of Global Pharma products.
FDA spokesperson Audra Harrison said the U.S. import ban was “unrelated to the outbreak,” and was instead based on the company’s “inadequate response” to a records request and problems with its manufacturing procedures. She wouldn’t say what those problems were.
The subsequent recall, she said, was recommended due to lack of microbial testing and issues with the product’s formulation and packaging.
The FDA, tasked with assuring the safety of drug products shipped to the U.S., has long struggled to inspect facilities in China and India that account for the vast majority of raw materials used in American medicines. A search of FDA’s online inspection database shows no records of agency staff visiting the plant.
Indian drug inspectors visited the plant and the country’s drug controller asked Global Pharma to stop making all products related to treating eye disorders until they finish their investigation, said P.V. Vijayalakshmi, the drug controller for southern Tamil Nadu state.
Ostrosky, the University of Texas expert, called the U.S. investigation “a public health victory” saying it shows that fighting drug-resistant bacteria requires international collaboration and investment. But he also said the case is disheartening.
An infection that’s usually easy to treat with common antibiotic eyedrops “has become an infection that can be deadly and has pretty much no treatment except one IV antibiotic,” he said.
Pseudomonas now joins a growing list of bugs — including bacteria that cause urinary tract infections — that are getting increasingly difficult to treat, Ostrosky added.
“It’s like a wave coming for us,” he said.