Federal health officials are advising consumers to stop using more than two dozen over-the-counter eyedrops products because of a potential risk of eye infection that may lead to partial vision loss or blindness.
The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert on Friday flagging 26 eye care products including eyedrops and gels from CVS Health, Leader (Cardinal Health), Rugby (Cardinal Health), Rite Aid, Target up&up and Velocity Pharma.
The federal agency recommended on Wednesday that the manufacturer recall all lots of those products after agency investigators found unsanitary conditions in a manufacturing plant, according to the news release from the F.D.A. Bacterial tests came back positive from critical drug production areas in the plant, which the agency did not immediately identify.
The F.D.A. said that it had not received any reports of infection associated with these products, but it was encouraging health care professionals and patients to report any cases to the agency.
It’s imperative that these products are sterile, regulators said, because drugs applied to the eyes bypass some of the body’s natural defenses.
The F.D.A. said consumers should properly discard these products by taking them to a drug take-back site or by checking whether a product was included on the F.D.A.’s “flush list” of drugs that can be safely discarded at home.
CVS, Rite Aid and Target are removing the products from their stores and websites, the agency said. Products branded as Leader, Rugby and Velocity may still be available in stores and online and should not be purchased, federal regulators said.
Rite Aid confirmed through a spokeswoman that it was removing “applicable Rite Aid branded products” from store shelves. A CVS spokeswoman said that the retail chain “immediately stopped the sale in-store and online of all products supplied by Velocity Pharma within the CVS Health Brand Eye Products portfolio,” and that customers could return those products for a full refund. The other retailers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
There have been other recent reports of problems with eye products.
In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the F.D.A. warned consumers to stop using EzriCare Artificial Tears and Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears. The eyedrops were linked to a drug-resistant strain of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which was linked to at least four deaths and vision loss in 14 patients.
Apotex, a Canadian Pharmaceutical company, recalled prescription eyedrops in March after some bottle caps developed cracks, which could compromise the product’s sterility.