Recall Pulls 70 Generic Drugs From the Market—What to Do If Your Medication Is One of Them
Fact checked by Nick Blackmer
A pharmaceutical company called Akorn has issued a voluntary recall of over 70 generic medications, including prescription drugs, nasal sprays, injectables, eye drops, and more.
If you have any medications that have been manufactured by Akorn, experts recommend reaching out to your pharmacist or healthcare provider to discuss alternative medication options.
Despite the number of medications being pulled off the market, experts say most of these generic drugs are also manufactured by other companies.
Akorn Pharmaceuticals, a generic pharmaceutical manufacturer and distributor that was based in Gurnee, IL, has issued a voluntary recall of various human and animal medications after it filed for bankruptcy and closed shop in February.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the company’s shutdown includes closing its Quality activities program that’s connected with over 70 human drugs and 9 veterinary drugs.
“The discontinuation of the Quality program means the company will not be able to support or guarantee that the products will meet all intended specifications through the labeled shelf life of the product,” the company said in a news release.
Akorn products were distributed nationwide to wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers, medical facilities, repackagers, and consumers online. However, the company stated that they are notifying distributors of the recall and are requesting that they notify their customs, consumers, and retailers.
All recalled products should be destroyed and distribution and use of any remaining product on the market should be stopped immediately, the company said.
Here’s what you need to know about which drugs and products are being recalled and what to do if your medication is one of them, according to experts.
Check the label on your prescription or medication. Almost all medications, whether in a bottle or tube, will have a label that specifies the manufacturer.
Which Medications Are Affected By The Recall?
The voluntary recall by Akorn Pharmaceuticals includes more than 70 human drugs, such as prescription medications, anti-seizure medicines, eyedrops, topical creams, pain medications, and allergy medicine, Candy Tsourounis, PharmD, a clinical pharmacist and Professor of Clinical Pharmacy at the University of California San Francisco, told Verywell.
Here’s a full list of the recalled products:
Analgesics, also known as pain killers, are types of medications used to relieve pain. Some of these drugs can be used to treat pain during medical procedures as well.
Acetaminophen & Codeine phosphate oral solution, 120 mg & 12 mg per 5 mL
Lidocaine Hydrochloride jelly USP, 2%
Antivirals are medications used to treat infections caused by certain types of viruses. For example, antivirals can treat herpes, chickenpox, or influenza virus.
Acyclovir oral suspension, 200 mg per 5 mL
Amantadine Hydrochloride syrup USP, 50 mg per 5 mL
Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, skin, eye, and ear infections.
Acetic Acid otic solution
Levofloxacin oral solution
Rifampin capsules USP, 150 mg & 300 mg
Sulfamethoxazole & Trimethoprim oral suspension USP, 200 mg & 40 mg per 5 mL
These medications can be used to treat issues related to the eye, including eye infections, dry eyes, vision loss, glaucoma, and itchy eyes caused by allergies. Some of these medications can be used before eye surgery.
Apraclonidine ophthalmic solution, 0.5%
Atropine Sulfate ophthalmic solution
Bacitracin Zinc and Polymyxin B Sulfate ophthalmic ointment, 3.5 g
Cromolyn Sodium ophthalmic solution, 4%
Gonak Hypromellose ophthalmic solution
Ketorolac Tromethamine ophthalmic solution, 0.5%
Moxifloxacin Hydrochloride solution, 0.5%
Neomycin & Polymyxin B sulfates & Bacitracin Zinc ophthalmic ointment
Olopatadine solution, 0.1% & 0.2%
Pilocarpine, 1%, 2%, & 4%
Sodium Chloride ophthalmic ointment
Sodium Chloride solution drops
Timolol Maleate ophthalmic solution, 0.5%, 2.5, 5, 10, & 15 mL
Tobramycin ophthalmic solution, 0.3%
Tropicamide ophthalmic solution, 0.5% & 1%
Hair, Skin, and Nail Medications
These medications can be used to treat psoriasis, red, scaly patches, dry skin on the head or scalp, fungal infections of the nails or toenails, eczema, dry skin, burns, or bites.
Calcipotriene scalp solution, 0.005%
Ciclopirox topical solution. 8%
Clobetasol Propionate cream, 0.05%
Clobetasol Propionate ointment, 0.05%
Clobetasol Propionate shampoo, 0.05%
Lidocaine 2.5% & Prilocaine 2.5% cream
These injections can be used for various things, including the treatment of high blood pressure, seizures, nausea, and vomiting.
Calcitriol injection, 1 mcg & 2 mcg
Cetrorelix Acetate for injection, 0.25 mg, single-dose vial
Ephedrine injection, 50 mg/mL
Granisetron Hydrochloride injection 1 mg/mL
Hydralazine Hydrochloride injection
Hydromorphone high potency injection USP (ampule and vial)
IC-Green Sterile Indocyanine Green injection USP
Levetiracetam injection USP, 500 mg per 5 mL single-dose vial
Levofloxacin injection, 25 mg/mL
Lorazepam injection, 2 mg/mL vial
Midazolam injection USP, 1 mg/mL & 5 mg/mL vial
Naloxone injection 0.4 mg/mL; 1 mL & 10 mL vial
Ropivacaine Hydrochloride injection USP, 2 mg/mL and 5 mg/mL
Fentanyl Citrate injection
Sufenta (Sufentanil Citrate injection, USP), 50 mcg/mL
Nasal medications can be used for seasonal allergies, sneezing, or nasal congestion.
Azelastine Hydrochloride nasal spray, 0.1%
Fluticasone Propionate nasal spray, 50 mcg/spray
Olopatadine Hydrochloride nasal spray, 665 mcg/spray
Promethazine Hydrochloride oral solution
These types of drugs are used to treat different respiratory issues like breathing problems, asthma, wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath.
Albuterol Sulfate syrup, 2.4 mg per 5 mL
Guaifenesin and Codeine Phosphate liquid
Promethazine Hydrochloride & Codeine Phosphate oral solution
Tobramycin inhalation solution USP, 300 mg/5 mL
Xopenex (levalbuterol hydrochloride solution, concentrate)
These medications can be used to treat and stop ulcers in the stomach, help with bowel syndrome, soften the stool, alleviate constipation, or help with high blood pressure.
Cimetidine Hydrochloride oral solution (to treat and prevent ulcers in the stomach and duodenum)
Dicyclomine Hydrochloride injection USP, 20 mg/2 mL
Diuril (Chlorothiazide) injection
Docu Liquid (Docusate Sodium liquid)
Lactulose Syrup oral and oral/rectal
Sodium Diuril (Chlorothiazide Sodium) injection
Some of these medications are supplements while others are drugs used to help with seizures, muscle stiffness, anxiety, ear infections, or weight loss.
Ferrous Sulfate iron supplement drops
Hydrocortisone and Acetic Acid otic solution
Levocarnitine oral solution, USP
Lidocaine Hydrochloride oral topical solution, USP (viscous) 2%
Lorazepam oral concentrate, 2 mg
Megestrol Acetate oral suspension, 40 mg/mL
Oxcarbazepine oral suspension USP, 300 mg/5 mL
Prednisolone Sodium Phosphate oral solution
Proparacaine Hydrochloride Ophthalmic Solution, 0.5%
Trihexyphenidyl Hydrochloride oral solution
Valproic Acid oral solution
Vitamin D supplement drops, 50 mL
What Should You Do If Your Medication Is on the List?
The first thing you should do is contact your pharmacist or local pharmacy to determine if there are similar medications that are available on the market, Tsourounis said.
“Usually, the pharmacist would get a notification that the medication is discontinued and they should be able to offer an alternative supplier or alternative product,” she said.
If your pharmacist is unable to find a similar generic medication to the one you are using from another manufacturer, Tsourounis recommends getting in touch with your healthcare provider to discuss if there are any other alternatives available.
Jack Kann, RPh, BS, Director of Pharmacy at South Shore University, told Verywell if Akorn is the only supplier of a specific generic drug, patients will need to have a discussion with their provider to get a new prescription for something else.
“If anyone has any Akorn products at home, call your pharmacy as soon as possible and follow up with your prescriber,” Kann said. “We cannot recommend continuing on with those medications, but they shouldn’t just discontinue the medication either. They need to engage in a conversation with their healthcare professional.”
How Concerning Is the Company’s Shutdown and Drug Recall?
Since most of the drugs being recalled are generics, Tsourounis said that they should still be widely available from other pharmaceutical companies and used by many other patients.
“There’s nothing on this list that makes me say ‘oh my goodness, we’re in trouble’ because many of these medicines have been around for a long time and we have other generic manufacturers who make them,” Tsourounis said. She does acknowledge, however, that there could be some medications on the list that are not manufactured or produced by other companies.
Despite this, Kann noted that the loss of Akorn Pharmaceuticals may lead to drug shortages if other generic manufacturers cannot meet the needs of the consumers who were previously treated with medications prepared by Akorn.
“For other generic manufacturers, it depends on what their manufacturing is and how much extra ability they have in their manufacturing plants to pick up and make additional products,” Kann said. “It may also take some time to ramp up with some of these medications, so product may not be available today, but it may be available within a few weeks.”
If any of your medications are recalled, experts recommend contacting your pharmacist to see if there are alternative products or suppliers. If there is no similar generic alternative, you should contact your healthcare provider to discuss other medication options.