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Company Refocuses Marketing Efforts on ReNu

Jun 30, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

We recently wrote that Bausch & Lomb, maker of ReNu with MoistureLoc, settled around 600 lawsuits involving the recalled contact lens solution. Now, Bausch & Lomb is focusing on ReNu marketing. According to a prior report in the Associated Press (AP), the settled ReNu with MoistureLoc claims have cost the company about $250 million, to date.

WXXI Center for Public Affairs reports that Bausch & Lomb announced a massive marketing and re-branding campaign that is expected to cost several million dollars and is geared to helping consumers understand its ReNu products.

Bausch and Lomb’s ReNu with Moisture Loc solution was taken off the marketplace in 2006 in this country and internationally after it was linked to an outbreak of a rare but serious fungal eye infection, said WXXI. Fusarium Keratitis, while uncommon, is a potentially blinding eye infection. Bausch & Lomb pulled ReNu with MoistureLoc from Asian markets in February 2006, and did the same in the U.S. in April of that year. The company would ultimately issue a worldwide recall of ReNu with MoistureLoc on May 15, 2006.

A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report on the outbreak found that those infected with Fusarium Keratitis were 20 times likelier to have used the ReNu with MoistureLoc solution and also determined that bad hygiene habits among users were not to blame for the infections; the contact lens solution appeared to have poor disinfectant qualities. Also, as we reported last November, a study conducted by researchers at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio found that ReNu with MoistureLoc loses much of its ability to fight fungal contamination when exposed to high temperatures for a long period of time.

We also reported previously that ReNu with MoistureLoc contained a microbial agent not found in other contact lens solutions and, according to a prior AP report, the solution also contained some novel moisturizing agents. Some researchers have theorized that the disinfectant absorbed into lenses at unusually high rates and the moisturizing agents created a biofilm (a cluster of microbes held together by a glue-like matrix) that shielded and even fostered growth of the fungus to infectious levels, said the AP.

Despite its issues, Bausch & Lomb Vice President of Brand Marketing Lisa Vandemark said the remainder of the ReNu product line does well, "We are definitely continually wanting to invest in it and build the business and move forward with the brand." Vandemark says its campaign is being developed to assist consumers in differentiating between the various ReNu products, reported WXXI.

The CDC ultimately confirmed 180 cases of Fusarium Keratitis in the U.S.; according to the AP, at least 60 more Americans needed vision-saving corneal transplants. And, while Bausch & Lomb has settled most Fusarium Keratitis cases, said the AP, it still has several dozen pending. Bausch & Lomb says it plans to defend at least 500 filed by people who claim to have suffered a variety of other eye infections allegedly because of ReNu.


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