FDA Notice: Pet Owners Should Watch for Unusual Behavior Amid Recalls

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The FDA issued a warning that veterinarians and pet owners should be alert for any unusual pet behavior in connection to recalled eyedrops.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that veterinarians and pet owners should be alert for any unusual pet behavior in connection to recalled eyedrops.

In a notice posted on March 13, the FDA’s division on veterinary medicine said that certain recalled eyedrops could cause eye infections in animals. The agency said the products were sold under a number of different brands and were marketed for use in people.

“The FDA is aware that veterinarians may have dispensed or recommended that pet owners purchase them from pharmacies,” the FDA said in the bulletin. “Although the last recall took place in November 2023, veterinarians and pet owners may still be using the products.”

It noted that it has received at least one adverse event report in an animal in connection to the eye drops.

“Veterinary hospitals and pet owners should check their eye drops against the brands and lots listed here and discard any products that are included in the recalls,” the federal regulator added.

Pet owners who have given the products to their animals should take note if their pets are “rubbing or scratching at their eyes or have swelling or discharge of the eyes,” the FDA said. If so, they should consult their veterinarians immediately, it added.

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A spokesperson for the FDA told Newsweek that the lone adverse event report was in a cat that suffered an eye infection after it was treated with the recalled drops. However, further details, including the cat’s health and what brand was used, was not provided by the spokesperson.

“Testing was not able to conclusively prove that the eye drops caused the infection. Pet owners who have used these products on their pets and notice that the pets are rubbing or scratching at their eyes or have swelling or discharge of the eyes should consult their veterinarians immediately,” the spokesperson told the outlet.

Over a several-month period in 2023, the FDA issued recalls for more than two dozen eye drops, targeting “major brands” because of an elevated risk of eye infections. It included products sold by CVS, Target, Rite Aid, Leader (Cardinal Health), and Walmart.

“These products are intended to be sterile. Ophthalmic drug products pose a potential heightened risk of harm to users because drugs applied to the eyes bypass some of the body’s natural defenses,” the FDA says.

The agency said that people who have symptoms of an eye infection in connection to an eye drop product should speak to a health care provider or seek medical care immediately. The FDA has recommended that people discard the eye drops and seek a refund.

Last year, the FDA encouraged doctors and patients to submit cases through the agency’s online reporting system.

Earlier in 2023, federal officials linked an outbreak of drug-resistant bacteria to eyedrops from two companies, EzriCare and Delsam Pharma. Dozens of people in the U.S. tested positive for eye infections from the rare bacterial strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

After the products were recalled in February, health inspectors visited the manufacturing plant in India that made the eyedrops and uncovered problems with how they were made and tested, including inadequate sterility measures.

An October recall of two dozen eyedrop brands came after FDA staff found cracked floors, barefoot workers, and other unsanitary conditions at a Mumbai plant that supplied products to CVS, Walmart, and other major retailers. It was the first time FDA staff had visited the site.

In late January 2024, the FDA also warned Americans to be aware of “copycat” products made by South Moon, Rebright, or FivFivGo “because of the potential risk of eye infection.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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