Thursday, April 13, 2006

Beware of Bausch & Lomb ReNu

ReNu, a popular contact lens cleanser made by Baush & Lomb has been linked to a rare fungal infection of the eye known as fungal keratitis. It is caused by a fungi called Fusarium and it can severely damage the cornea and even cause blindness.

In Singapore, so far there is a total of 75 cases of cornea fungal infections according to the Ministry of Health which also did a study to investigate the infections. They found out that the use of ReNu is linked to the corneal infections. From Ministry of Health:
A comprehensive case-control study (comparing contact lens users with infection and contact lens users without corneal infection) was undertaken in Feb-Mar 2006 to investigate risk factors for the spike in fungal corneal infection. The study found a strong association between corneal infection and the use of ReNu solution. This association remained strong even after taking into consideration socio-demographic, lens, hygiene and environmental factors. The findings are also consistent with recent observations made in the US and Hong Kong.
In the US, 109 people in 17 states had the same infection and yet again ReNu is linked to some of these infections. Bausch & Lomb has decided to immediately and voluntarily suspend all shipments of its ReNu solution. Stores all over US have also started to clear their shelves of ReNu. From Bloomberg:
``This created a lot of confusion'' for customers, said spokesman Michael Polzin of No. 1 drugstore chain Walgreen, based in Deerfield, Illinois. ``To try to alleviate that customer confusion, we are taking out all the ReNu line.''

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, is removing ReNu with MoistureLoc from its shelves and has stopped sales ``pending further tests'' by the CDC, said spokesman Kevin Gardner in an e-mailed statement.

No. 3 U.S. drugstore chain Rite Aid, based in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, will remove the Bausch & Lomb product from its stores in the next 24 hours, said spokeswoman Jody Cook in an interview. Jean Coutu Group Inc., which owns 1,853 Eckerd and Brooks stores, is also removing the product from stores, spokeswoman Helene Bisson said.

Visits to stores yesterday turned up considerable confusion. Even after Rite Aid, Walgreen and Safeway corporate headquarters said the product was being removed, ReNu with MoistureLoc was still on shelves at a Safeway store in downtown San Francisco last night while all but two canisters had been pulled from a Rite Aid store. Walgreen had removed the item from its downtown San Francisco stores as of last night.
So far, reports of fungal keratitis possibly linked to ReNu has only surfaced in the US and South East Asia. Bausch & Lomb will not halt the sale of ReNu in other parts of the world. From Times Online:
Bausch & Lomb (B&L), the US-listed eyecare company, said yesterday that it would not withdraw the solution from distribution in the UK because its supplies for Europe, the Middle East and Africa were made in Milan, Italy.

The eye disease has been linked to contact lens solution manufactured in B&L’s plant in Greenville, South Carolina, which supplies products to the US and South-East Asia. B&L said yesterday that no “unusual trends” in eye disease had been reported in the UK, Europe, Middle East or Africa.
Bausch & Lomb meanwhile has stated that its ReNu products is safe and effective. From Forbes:
In a conference call with analysts, the CEO was quoted by The Associated Press as saying, "As far as speculation about theories, there's a lot of them, we've run a lot of them to ground and come up with nothing." He continued, "Every additional test we've run suggests that the formulation is as safe and effective as anything on the market and in particular with regard to Fusarium."
The company also said back in March 31 that it believes that the root cause of these infections is not related to a specific contact lens or lens-care product. It said that test results show that ReNu proved to be stable, sterile and highly effective in killing the fungus. From Bausch & Lomb:
Product from the lots of ReNu® with MoistureLoc ® multi-purpose solution that were identified as being used by patients in Singapore and Hong Kong, were tested and proved to be stable, sterile and highly effective in killing the fungus.

Product from the lots of ReNu with MoistureLoc and ReNu® MultiPlus ® multi-purpose solutions that were shipped to Hong Kong and Singapore were tested and proved to be stable, sterile and highly effective in killing the fungus.

Product samples collected from the Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore markets were tested with a full panel of biocidal challenge organisms and full chemical testing was performed. All testing indicated that the samples were within specification and highly effective in killing bacteria and fungi.
With the exact cause of these recent infections yet to be identified, contact lens users are advised not to use ReNu for the time being. Also keep your contact lenses clean all the time and best, use daily disposable lenses. From Business Week:
Colby says the best way for contact lens wearers to avoid eye infections is to keep their lenses scrupulously clean. Hands should always be washed before touching lenses, the storage case should be cleaned, and a multi-purpose solution should be squirted on the lens 10 seconds to 15 seconds before it is stored.

The eye surgeon's ultimate recommendation: "I really prefer disposable lenses that are thrown away at the end of each day" to avoid storage and cleaning problems.
Update 16 April: Bausch & Lomb's open letter to consumers: "Switch to another lens care solution for the time being"

Previously: Another health hazard: Beware of the pedicure

1 comment:

Chris said...

I am UK sufferer of keratitis definitely linked to the use of Renu moistureloc. I suffered appallingly and was left physically and mentally harmed. I also did have a corneal transplant but that is not straightforward. there is the future fraught with risk and surgery abd cataracts. The medication is closely allied to chemotherapy and i still have sight problems. One day I was happy and I woke with a terible pain in my eye and my life was alterd unimaginably.