Tue, Sep 20, 2016 - Page 3 News List

FDA says supplies won’t stop after eye drop halt

QUINAX ISSUES:Production of the cataract treatment was canceled globally, but an expert said that other treatments meant people would not be without options

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A report yesterday saying that supplies of Taiwan’s most popular eye drops to treat cataracts would stop has prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to say it would take action to make sure replacement stock is made available.

The Chinese-language Apple Daily said the importer of Quinax — the Taiwanese branch of pharmaceutical company Alcon — had been informed by the manufacturer that production of the eye drops would cease and that supplies to Taiwan stopped last week.

The FDA said it would estimate demand for the product and ensure the supply of similar eye drops.

“We have contacted other pharmaceutical companies to ensure the supply of other eye drop products to replace [Quinax] and we can guarantee that there will not be a supply shortage,” FDA senior specialist Tsai Shih-chih (蔡士智) said.

Quinax is the most common eye drop prescribed for cataract treatment, with an estimated 500,000 people in Taiwan using it, the report said.

There are approximately 2 million people with cataracts in Taiwan and those with mild to moderate cases are prescribed eye drops to help delay progression of the condition, with Quinax Sterile Ophthalmic Solution accounting for 70 to 90 percent of the market in Taiwan, it said.

The Apple Daily reported that Lu Da-wen (呂大文), head of the Department of Ophthalmology at Tri-Service General Hospital and an expert on cataracts, said an estimated 500,000 people in the nation use Quinax regularly, while stock at the hospital would only last another three weeks.

Lu said that the product has been available in Taiwan for about 30 years.

People can delay progression of cataracts by maintaining good eye health habits, while two similar kinds of eye drops are still available, so there is no need to panic over the report, Lu said.

Lu said that it was found that the concentration of the Quinax product declines over time, regardless of whether it is stored at room temperature or refrigerated, so the manufacturer announced an international halt to production.

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