Contaminated batches of Zovirax (aciclovir) eye ointment — used for the local treatment of herpes simplex infections — are being recalled after metal particles were found in an ingredient used in its manufacture.
Product shortages are already being reported because there are no alternative batches available from manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline. It will be several months before new batches are available.
In a memo accompanying the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency recall, the UK medicines information service (UKMi) suggests a number of alternative treatments available to treat the condition.
The only other topical product licensed in the UK for herpes simplex keratitis is ganciclovir 0.15% eye gel (Virgan). Another option would be a course of oral aciclovir.
Aciclovir 3% eye ointment may be available as an imported medicine but it is unlicensed in the UK, the memo points out. Tifluorothymidine 1% drops (trifluridine, Viroptic) are another unlicensed option, it suggests.
The affected Zovirax products carry the batch numbers 3L942 and 3M941, with expiry dates of October 2018 and January 2019, respectively. They were first distributed in January and April 2014.