A woman in Florida filed a lawsuit late Thursday against the maker of EzriCare artificial tears and Walmart after suffering a bacterial infection that she said was caused by the eyedrops.
Houston-based Lange Law Firm, which is representing the woman, Teresa Phillips, 60, of Bradford County, said the lawsuit is the first nationwide over injuries related to eyedrops linked to a drug-resistant bacterial infection called Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
According to the lawsuit, Phillips purchased EzriCare artificial tears in the weeks before her infection.
In May, Phillips said she felt "itchy" and had "unrelenting pain in her eyes." She underwent a round of antibiotics, according to the suit, but after a week "it became apparent that the antibiotics weren't working to stop the infection."
Phillips had to have surgery to remedy some of the issues related to the infection and still has symptoms, according to the firm.
The EzriCare artificial tears have been linked to at least 56 cases of bacterial infection in 12 states. Five of those people so far have had vision loss. One person died when the bacteria entered the bloodstream. Doctors say there could be more cases.
The maker of the eyedrops, Global Pharma Healthcare, announced on Feb. 2 that it was voluntarily recalling the product because of possible contamination.
While the eyedrops have not yet definitively been traced to the infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration say they are currently working with state and local health officials to investigate the outbreak. In an alert announced last week, the CDC said it had collected specimens from May 2022 to January.
Global Pharma and Walmart did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the lawsuit.
The FDA first learned about the Pseudomonas aeruginosa outbreak in December and discovered the link to the EzriCare drops in January, according to FDA spokesperson Audra Harrison.
The EzriCare drops are not FDA-approved products, the agency said, and are legally marketed under a regulatory pathway that allows the sale of over-the-counter products that meet certain requirements. The FDA does not pre-review or approve these kinds of products, the agency said.
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