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600 ReNu with MoistureLoc Lawsuits Reportedly Settled

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Hundreds of ReNu with MoistureLoc lawsuits have been “quietly” settled by Bausch & Lomb, the Associated Press is reporting.  The confidential settlements, numbering around 600, have some concerned that the true facts about the epidemic of dangerous eye infections caused by ReNu with MoistureLoc in 2006 will never be made public.

Bausch & Lomb issued a worldwide recall of ReNu with MoistureLoc on May 15, 2006, after it was linked to an outbreak of Fusarium Keratitis, a potentially blinding eye infection. In the U.S.,  the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ultimately confirmed 180 cases of Fusarium Keratitis in the U.S.  linked to ReNu.  The CDC said 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.  According to the Associated Press, at least 60 more Americans needed vision-saving corneal transplants.

According to the Associated Press, while Bausch & Lomb has settled most Fusarium Keratitis cases, it still has several dozen pending.  And the company says it plans to defend at least 500 filed by people who claim to have suffered a variety of other eye infections because of ReNu.  A pretrial hearing is scheduled this week in New York to decide if there’s a reliable scientific basis for arguing that a link between ReNu and these other infections exists, the Associated Press said.

Other multipurpose contact lens solutions have also been linked to eye infection outbreaks.  For example, we’ve previously reported that in 2007 at least 21 cases of infections involving the water-borne acanthamoeba parasite  were linked to Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) Complete MoisturePlus solution, prompting the Santa Ana, California-based company to recall the product.  According to the Associated Press, 170 lawsuits are pending against AMO as a result of that outbreak.

Such incidents have raised concerns about the overall safety of multipurpose contact lens solution, which according to the Associated Press, have virtually replaced older lens cleansing systems since coming on the market over a decade ago.  As we reported last June, a Food & Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel recommended that contact lens solutions be subjected to more stringent testing protocols, and the agency has been working on such standards.

At least one expert interviewed by the Associated Press expressed concerns that the confidential nature of the ReNu with MoistureLoc settlements is preventing facts about the catastrophe – including questions of blame and clinical findings about the Fusarium Keratitis outbreak – from seeing the light of day.  But the doctor was hopeful that some of the other lawsuits still to be settled will end up at trial, thus making such facts part of the public record.

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