March 17, 2023 | 12:19 p.m
Keep an eye on this disturbing development story.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 68 patients in 1[ads1]6 US states have been diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection likely caused by preservative-free eye drops.
The health organization says a rare strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is resistant to antibiotics, has resulted in the death of one American, as well as the loss of vision in eight other people across the country.
Four people infected have been forced to have their eyes surgically removed, including Florida grandmother Clara Oliva, who is now suing the makers of EzriCare Artificial Tears.
“My client is terribly injured and now legally blind. I am currently investigating others similarly injured by this recalled product,” Oliva’s attorney Natasha Cortes wrote in an email to Law&Crime. “These companies must be held accountable for the devastating the consequences their product has caused Oliva and other consumers.”
Back in January, the CDC warned people to stop using this product, as well as Delsam Pharma’s artificial tears, after open bottles taken from patients were found to contain the potentially deadly bacteria.
Cortes told NBC that the Floridian frequently used EzriCare Artificial Tears before developing the infection.
“It [the product] does not contain preservatives, which are used to fight bacterial contamination, the legal eagle told the news network in an interview Tuesday. “There are probably many more people who have suffered from infections who are unaware, as Oliva was.”
According to Oliva’s suit, the 68-year-old grandmother began using EzriCare Artificial Tears last May.
Several months later, the right eye became “red, swollen and abnormally watery”. She then developed a bacterial infection which caused a corneal ulcer and a deterioration of her vision.
“Given the severity of the infection in Mrs. Oliva’s right eye, the exhaustion of treatment methods, and the risk of the infection systematically spreading and creating a life-threatening condition, it was determined that an enucleation of Mrs. Oliva’s right eye was the best option to control it serious antibiotic-resistant infection,” the case states.
“1. On September 2022, Mrs. Oliva’s right eye was surgically removed and replaced with a plastic implant. Given her reduced visual acuity of 20/200 in the remaining left eye, Mrs. Oliva is now legally blind.”
Meanwhile, the CDC has not released any personal information about the person who died after developing the rare strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
In January, the health organization warned customers to stop using both EzriCare Artificial Tears and Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears after they clocked the rare outbreak of infections.
In February, Global Pharma – the company that owns both of these products – issued a voluntary recall following a formal recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration.
However, an EzriCare Artificial Tears spokesperson said testing has not definitely linked the outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to their products.
“To the extent possible, we have contacted customers to advise against continued use of the product,” the company representative said.
“We also immediately contacted both the CDC and the FDA and indicated our willingness to cooperate with any requests they have of us.”