Unapproved Prescription Ear Drop (Otic) Products: Not FDA Evaluated for Safety, Effectiveness and Quality

[Posted 07/01/2015]

AUDIENCE: Family Practice, Consumer, Pediatrics

ISSUE: FDA announced its intention to take enforcement action against companies that manufacture and/or distribute certain unapproved prescription ear drop products (known as otic products) labeled to relieve ear pain, infection, and inflammation. The unapproved prescription ear drops contain active ingredients such as benzocaine and hydrocortisone, and have not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness and quality. The labels on these products do not disclose that they lack FDA approval, and health care professionals may not be aware of their unapproved status.

Unapproved prescription otic drug products are frequently given to young children suffering from ear infections and other conditions that cause ear pain and swelling. Patients taking unapproved drugs may be at greater risk because there is no proven safety or effectiveness information. These products may be contaminated or manufactured incorrectly, which could result in patients receiving the wrong dose, even when administered according to the labeled directions for use.

Unapproved prescription otic drug products containing the following ingredients are covered by this action:

  • benzocaine;
  • benzocaine and antipyrine;
  • benzocaine, antipyrine, and zinc acetate;
  • benzocaine, chloroxylenol, and hydrocortisone;
  • chloroxylenol and pramoxine; and
  • chloroxylenol, pramoxine, and hydrocortisone.

BACKGROUND: FDA informed the companies that they must stop manufacturing these unapproved prescription otic products or be subject to enforcement actions, including seizure, injunction and/or criminal proceedings. Today’s action does not affect FDA-approved prescription otic products, or legally marketed otic products sold over-the-counter.

RECOMMENDATION: Consumers who believe they are using unapproved prescription ear drops should contact their health care provider to discuss alternatives.

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

  • Complete and submit the report Online:
  • Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178

[07/01/2015 - News Release - FDA]

[07/01/2015 - Consumer Update - FDA]

Page Last Updated: 07/01/2015
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