National shortage of erythromycin ophthalmic ointment

RCP has received notice of a national shortage of erythromycin ophthalmic ointment (all types), typically used for newborn eye prophylaxis. Please see the attached memo which reminds perinatal and newborn care providers of the CPS recommendations to prevent Neonatal Ophthalmia.

Our understanding is that there is insufficient supply to maintain universal newborn ocular prophylaxis (if that continues to be the standard practice for newborns in your care). Alternative measures to ensure continued newborn safety include prenatal screening, communication of/access to screening results, discussion of risk factors with pregnant patients and their partners, communication with community-based primary care providers, and appropriate and timely consultation for babies who may be infected.

Parents/caregivers should be informed to watch their infant for extensive eye irritation or acute significant mucopurulent eye discharge in the first week of life and told whom to contact immediately if symptoms develop, or if the child is unwell in any way.

RCP will provide updated information as it becomes available.

Memorandum: Impending shortage of erythromycin ophthalmic ointment (PDF, updated Nov 14, 2019)