The product was recalled in 2006, but there are still lawsuits emerging from use of the product around the time of the recall, and even beyond. Any consumer not in the habit of paying close attention to the news of the day could be forgiven for not knowing about the recall, and may have continued using the solution stocked at home, up to and including the best before date on the bottle.
At the time, terms of the recall in April of that year were fairly straightforward: a discontinuation of ReNu was to be swift and immediate. Such were the risks associated with the rare eye infection that could lead to severe eyesight damage or even blindness, including the potential loss of an eye.
Beyond the pain and suffering associated with the Fusarium Keratitis infection, are costs associated with treatment, including expensive surgery were an eye need to be removed, and a prosthetic eye required. Those having incurred steep expenses for treatment could be forgiven for attempting to pursue compensation, despite the fact that more than 24 months may have gone by since the in initial recall.
Just this month, the latest lawsuit was filed on behalf of seven individuals claiming to have been negatively impacted by using ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution. The suit, filed May 13th in St. Clair County, holds that while using ReNu with MoistureLoc, the plaintiffs began experiencing ocular pain requiring treatment and care. The seven were described as enduring extreme pain and suffering, photophobia, corneal infection, ulceration and/or scarring, loss of vision, prolonged and ongoing medical treatment, mental anxiety and distress, and diminution in quality of life.
The seven plaintiffs hail from various locales around the country. However, their purchase, use and injury all happened in the state of Illinois, thus the filing in St. Clair County.
Eye injuries are not only extremely painful, but also carry substantial risk given the uniqueness of the eye. We are born with only two. And while the potential for rehabilitation of the eye has advanced in recent years, including the availability of cornea transplants, the fact remains that a badly damaged eye that cannot be rehabilitated must be removed.
Suddenly having to go through life with one good eye, while escaping total blindness, can have all sorts of repercussions. Anything that goes into the eye, such as contact lens solution, is assumed to be of the highest quality, and completely safe. However, that didn't appear to be the case with ReNu.
Beyond recalling ReNu with MoistureLoc in April of 2006, Bausch & Lomb was cited by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with regard to issues at its manufacturing facility in Greenville, South Carolina. An inspection carried out under the auspices of the FDA from March 22nd through May 15th of that year resulted in a warning letter issued to the company with regard to the plant, together with yet another warning letter issued in October of that year relating to the failure of Bausch & Lomb to report various eye infections to the agency, that had been identified prior to the recall of the product.
It should be noted that Bausch & Lomb issued a voluntary recall of ReNu Multiplus Solution, also manufactured at the Greenville, S.C. plant.
So what does Fusarium Keratitis look, and feel like? Awful—red, swollen and oozing eyes. One sufferer of Keratitis, young and in perfect health began experiencing eye trouble right after starting to use ReNu with Moistureloc in June of 2005. Doctors asked if the patient had been swimming in dirty ponds or rivers, the eyes looked so distressed.
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The situation reportedly went on for months, while the patient was spending upwards of $2000 per month for various tests, medications and drugs not covered by an HMO. The next year was a blur of excruciating pain, not to mention addiction to, and detoxification from various pain medications, until a corneal trasnplant in April 2006 finally revealed a diagnosis of Acanthamoeba Keratitis through a post-op biopsy.
In a word, it can be hell.
That's one of the reasons why Bausch & Lomb is facing upwards of 400 lawsuits over its product. While the company was acquired by Warburg Pincus LLC in October of last year, the hangover from the previous regime could amount to $1 billion in liability.
One wonders if they could see this one coming…