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FDA warns consumers contaminated ‘copycat’ eye drops could cause infections

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(WASHINGTON) — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is urging consumers to take another look at the packaging for their eye drops.

On Wednesday, the FDA warned not to purchase or use South Moon, Rebright or FivFivGo brand eye drops because of the potential risk of eye infection, according to a press release.

The federal agency says these “copycat” brands’ packaging resembles that of Bausch + Lomb’s Lumify brand eye drops, which is an over-the-counter product that’s FDA-approved for redness relief.

Photos shared by the FDA show how similar the packaging of unapproved brands is to Lumify’s distinct gray-and-purple packaging, which also features an illustration of a woman’s eye.

The FDA says consumers should discard these copycat products, and that “patients who have signs or symptoms of an eye infection should talk to their health care provider or seek medical care immediately.”

The FDA tested South Moon and Rebright eye drops and found that South Moon contained Burkholderia cepacia complex, a group of bacteria that could cause an antibiotic-resistant infection.

Rebright tested negative for contamination, but the FDA nonetheless recommends consumers also not use the product.

Both South Moon and Rebright eye drops also lacked brimonidine tartrate, the active ingredient in Lumify.

The FDA announcement says the agency was unable to obtain FivFivGo samples for testing.

The agency noted that South Moon is labeled as being made by Chinese e-commerce company Shantou Cross-border Premium Products. However, the exact origin of the three brands is “currently unclear,” and the FDA says it is continuing its investigation.

The FDA says it has not been alerted to adverse events for the three copycat brands specifically, but that it has “received reports related to possibly fake Lumify, including product quality concerns, eye irritation, pain and infection.”

“The agency recommends consumers only buy eye products from reputable retailers such as state-licensed pharmacies and beware of online retailers selling products with false claims,” according to the FDA press release.

ABC News reported last November that dozens of eye drop brands had been pulled off retail shelves earlier in the year due to bacterial and fungal contamination, with multiple warnings issued by the FDA.

The FDA warning at the time included over two dozen eye drops sold by big-name retailers such as CVS Health, Rite Aid, and Target.

Experts and advocates said then that one likely reason for the contamination is that in-person faculty inspections had decreased significantly during the pandemic, meaning there had been less regulatory oversight.

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