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Chloramphenicol eye drops, boron, infants and fertility
  1. James A Cave
  1. The Downland Practice, Berkshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr James A Cave, The Downland Practice, Berkshire, UK; jcave{at}

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Consultations for infective conjunctivitis are common in primary care and account for 1% of all GP consultations in the UK.1 Between 50% and 75% of cases of infectious conjunctivitis in children are thought to be bacterial and data from the USA suggest that almost 25% of cases of bacterial conjunctivitis are in those aged 0–2 years.1 2 Although most infections are self-limiting and resolve within 7 days, treatment with topical antibiotics may be required and chloramphenicol eye drops are recommended as the first-line drug treatment.1 3 Consequently, the news that the majority of chloramphenicol eye drop products are no longer licensed for children aged under 2 years due to concerns regarding fertility has caused consternation across primary care. Unlike many safety issues that are announced by the regulatory authorities and cascaded through official channels, this one has taken doctors …

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  • Competing interests None declared. Refer to the online supplementary files to view the ICMJE form(s).

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.