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Evidence builds in eye infection spread

May 4, 2006 | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Five types of contact lens solution, three of them made by Bausch & Lomb, were used by people suffering from an aggressive fungal eye infection, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While Bausch & Lomb has pulled only one product off the market ReNu with MoistureLoc several outbreak victims have told investigators they used ReNu MultiPlus or an unspecified ReNu solution.

All ReNu solutions sold in North America and most of Asia are made at one Bausch & Lomb plant in Greenville, S.C.

Despite the new data, officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday they are not changing their recommendations to consumers, which call for them to stop using ReNu with MoistureLoc, nothing more.

"Our interest in the MoistureLoc product is based on the disproportionate number of cases compared to the overall market share," the FDA said in a written statement.

The CDC and the FDA since March have been investigating a possible connection between Bausch & Lomb contact lens solutions and an international outbreak of sight-threatening eye infections, called fusarium keratitis. They have urged lens users with symptoms such as redness, pain, light sensitivity or blurry vision to see a doctor.

The CDC has received reports of 86 confirmed, nine possible and 96 suspected fusarium cases in 29 states. The infections by the fusarium fungus were so severe that at least eight patients have required corneal transplants. Health authorities in Asia, which is also supplied with ReNu solutions from the same South Carolina plant, are investigating additional cases.

Of 56 infected contact lens users studied by CDC investigators, ReNu with MoistureLoc was used by 32 patients. The company's ReNu MultiPlus solution was used by 15 people and unspecified ReNu solutions were used by seven.

Use of solutions made by Alcon and Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) were reported by three patients each. The numbers add up to more than 56 because some people may have used more than one product, the CDC said. Officials with Alcon and AMO said they aren't aware of any confirmed links to their products.

Bausch & Lomb spokeswoman Meg Graham said the numbers continue to show the disproportionate relationship with the MoistureLoc product, although a link hasn't been confirmed. ReNu with MoistureLoc was used by 57 percent of the outbreak victims. Yet the product has only about 8 percent of the U.S. market share, or about 2.3 million consumers, she added.

In contrast, ReNu MultiPlus solution was reported as being used by 27 percent of the outbreak victims. MultiPlus, Graham said, is used by 40 percent of the U.S. market, or about 11 million consumers.

MultiPlus has been sold since 1997 and has a different chemical makeup from MoistureLoc, which has only been sold in the United States since late 2004.


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