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Bausch and Lomb announces worldwide recall of lens solution

May 15, 2006 | AFP

Contact lens maker Bausch and Lomb have announced an immediate worldwide recall of its MoistureLoc cleaning solution that had been linked to a rare eye infection.

"Bausch and Lomb's top priority is the safety of our customers, and we want them to have complete confidence in our products," chairman and chief executive Ronald Zarrella said in a statement.

The announcement came after health authorities in Hong Kong, Singapore and the United States reported that the MoistureLoc formula was used by many of the contact lens wearers treated for a rare eye infection called Fusarium keratitis, which can lead to blindness.

Bausch and Lomb said it immediately launched an investigation, which concluded there had been no contamination or tampering with the product.

"That leads us to conclude that some aspect of the MoistureLoc formula may be increasing the relative risk of Fusarium infection in unusual circumstances," Zarrella said, adding that the investigation is continuing.

"We are continuing to investigate this link, but in the meantime, we're taking the most responsible action in the interests of our customers by discontinuing the MoistureLoc formula," the CEO said.

"We are taking this action even in countries where we have seen no unusual trends in Fusarium infections, for example in China and the markets in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa."

Earlier this month, US health authorities confirmed 102 cases of the infection, a painful inflammation of the cornea. A total of 54 sufferers had used Bausch and Lomb cleaning solutions.

The US Centers for Disease Control cautioned that not all of the infections involved people who used Bausch and Lomb solutions exclusively, saying that three involved Alcon solutions and another three were linked to Advanced Medical Optics solutions.

It added that the disease occurs naturally in the environment and the increase in cases may have resulted from greater public awareness of the condition, because of recent media coverage of Bausch and Lomb.

The MoistureLoc solution, used since late 2004, was recalled from US markets in April after preliminary data prompted a warning from the US Food and Drug Administration.

A class-action suit was filed against the company in December 2005 by a woman who claimed she suffered an infection from the solution that required a corneal transplant.

The company urged users to switch to other solutions which use a different formula. Shares of Bausch and Lomb were up more than four percent Monday, after a 22 percent drop since the April 10 US recall announcement.

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