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CDC Report on ReNu with MoistureLoc May Exacerbate Legal Problems for Bausch & Lomb

Aug 23, 2006 |

CDC researchers believe that the global recall of Bausch & Lomb’s ReNu with MoistureLoc has stopped the outbreak of fusarium keratitis, a serious fungal eye infection. However, the CDC report stated that poor hygiene was not the sole cause of the fungal infections, and said that the contact lens solution appears unable to adequately disinfect contact lenses. While the recall has potentially saved thousands from future infection, the CDC research may have hurt Bausch & Lomb’s ability to defend itself in numerous lawsuits filed against the company. Analysts have estimated Bausch & Lomb faces $500 million to $1 billion in potential liability from the infections, but many plaintiff attorneys believe the liability is much greater.

As of June 30, the researchers had identified 164 confirmed cases of the fungal infection fusarium keratitis. Of those, 94 percent, or 154 patients, wore soft contact lenses. Infected patients came from 33 states and one U.S. territory and about 34 percent of them required a corneal transplant. According to the study, infected contact lens wearers were 20 times more likely to have used Bausch & Lomb’s ReNu with MoistureLoc lens solution than another solution.
While the number of reported CDC cases is alarming, a prominent plaintiff attorney believes the number of infected patients could be in the thousands. Jerrold Parker, a founding partner of Parker & Waichman, LLP, said his firm has already been retained by over 600 plaintiffs and they continue to evaluate hundreds of additional cases. Mr. Parker indicated that his firm is also investigating the disinfectant qualities of other multi-purpose solutions. Some researchers believe that all multi-purpose contact lens solutions fail to effectively sterilize contact lenses.

In the meantime, CDC researchers appear happy that they’ve begun to understand what lead to the fungal outbreak. “We feel pretty confident that the outbreak is over,” said CDC researcher Benjamin Park, who has studied the outbreak since the first reports of the infection in the United States in early March. The report by Park and colleagues at the CDC in Atlanta appeared in the August 23-30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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