Drug Safety

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 273–276

Ocular Chloramphenicol and Aplastic Anaemia

Is There a Link?


  • Sandra A. Rayner
    • Immunology Department, Royal Postgraduate Medical SchoolHammersmith Hospital
  • Roger J. Buckley
    • Contact Lens DepartmentMoorfields Eye Hospital
Leading Article

DOI: 10.2165/00002018-199614050-00001

Cite this article as:
Rayner, S.A. & Buckley, R.J. Drug-Safety (1996) 14: 273. doi:10.2165/00002018-199614050-00001


The question of a link between the use of topical ocular chloramphenicol and the incidence of aplastic anaemia continues to be a controversial issue in ophthalmological spheres. At present topical ocular chloramphenicol is widely used in the UK for the treatment of conjunctivitis, whereas it is very rarely prescribed for this indication in the US. Individual policies vary around the rest of the world.

The evidence for and against any association between topical ocular chloramphenicol and an increased risk of aplastic anaemia is reviewed, and the reasons behind the current prescribing policies are clarified. The discussion generated in the literature over the past 2 years over this issue is considered, along with the published debate from the past 3 decades.

The debate is not conclusive, but by presenting or referencing the specific case reports and the published opinions of various experts, we hope to enable the reader to make his or her own informed decision as to whether use of the topical preparation of chloramphenicol should be considered by the ophthalmological community.

Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1996