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Bausch & Lomb Cuts Jobs at Contact Lens Plant in Scotland

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More bad news fromBausch & Lomb, the maker of recalled ReNu with MoistureLoc Contact Lens Solution. The company, still reeling from the ReNu with MoistureLoc Contact Lens Solution recall, announced that it would be eliminating 250 jobs at one of its plants in the United Kingdom.

The Bausch & Lomb job cuts will hit workers at the company’s plant in West Lothian, Scotland. The Bausch & Lomb plant there manufactures contact lenses. The company is to cease the manufacture of its SoftLens One Day contact lens produced at the plant in 2008, replacing it with the technologically advanced SofLens Daily Disposable contact lens.

In 2006, Bausch & Lomb’s ReNu with MoistureLoc Contact Lens Solution was linked to Fusarium Keratitis, a rare eye infection that has the potential to cause blindness. The company pulled ReNu with MoistureLoc from Asian markets in February 2006, and did the same in the U.S. in April, before finally issuing a worldwide recall on May 15, 2006. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) determined that bad hygiene habits among users were not to blame for the infections, but that the contact lens solution appeared to have poor disinfectant qualities. As of June 30, 2006, the CDC had confirmed 164 cases of Fusarium Keratitis. The same report said that those infected with Fusarium Keratitis were 20 time more likely to have used the ReNu with MoistureLoc solution.

In October of 2006, the Food & Drug Administration issued a warning letter to Bausch & Lomb, criticizing the company for not reporting nearly three dozen infections linked to ReNu with MoistureLoc that occurred before sales of the product were suspended. The letter also cited the company for numerous violations found during a May inspection of its Greenville, South Carolina manufacturing plant. Now, Bausch & Lomb faces more than 1,000 product liability lawsuits over ReNu with MoistureLoc, and some legal experts believe the company could end up paying out more than $1 billion in damages.

In October 2007, Warburg Pincus, a leading private equity firm, completed a $3.67 billion buyout of Bausch & Lomb. Bausch & Lomb’s management had hoped the Warburg Pincus acquisition would stem the bleeding from the ReNu with MoistureLoc recall. That recall has been blamed for a 20% percent drop in the company’s 2006 profits. Following the buyout, Bausch & Lomb ceased to be a publicly traded company, a status it has held for over 69 years. However, Warburg Pincus has indicated that Bausch & Lomb could again become a publicly traded company within five to seven year.

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