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CDC says 102 confirmed Fusarium eye infection cases

May 5, 2006 |

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Friday 102 cases of a serious eye infection that can cause blindness and may be linked to contact lens use, most notably to solution made by Bausch & Lomb Inc. (BOL).

The number of confirmed Fusarium keratitis cases has grown by 16 since Tuesday, when the CDC last reported data. The agency also said Friday there are 12 cases of possible infection and 81 cases are under still under investigation. The confirmed and possible cases are in 31 U.S. states and territories.

The CDC did not say whether any more people with confirmed infections have reported using a specific contact lens solution made by Bausch or a competitor. The agency said it plans to provide updates on the number of cases on Tuesdays and Fridays, and updates on the products used by people with infections on Tuesdays only.

The agency clarified that it doesn't yet know what has caused the eye infection outbreak.

"At this point, it is too early in the investigation to say whether a particular product or solution may be responsible for the outbreak," the CDC said in a press release.

This Tuesday, the CDC said it had complete information on 58 of 86 Fusarium cases, and that 56 of 58 people with infections reported wearing contact lenses.

Of those, 32 people reported using Bausch's ReNu with MoistureLoc, a lens solution the company pulled from the market last month amid concerns it could be connected to Fusarium cases. The CDC also said 15 people reported using ReNu MultiPlus, and that seven people reported using an unspecified ReNu product.

The agency also said three people reported using a product made by Advanced Medical Optics Inc. (EYE) and three reported using an Alcon Inc. (ACL) product.

The CDC said Friday that 65 reports of Fusarium infections include insufficient evidence to classify them as cases or to carry other non-Fusarium diagnosis.

The possible MultiPlus connection sent Bausch shares into a steep fall Wednesday, as MultiPlus is a much larger brand than MoistureLoc and remains on store shelves. Bausch, which has offered free MultiPlus to MoistureLoc users, has defended MultiPlus and said the reported infection instances don't match the products nearly 40% U.S. market share.

Bausch asked doctors in a letter Wednesday to continue recommending its ReNu MultiPlus and ReNu Multi-Purpose products.

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