Keratitis: Special Report
roundtable discussion focused on the events that led to the withdrawal of MoistureLoc
from the market.
Joseph T. Barr, OD, MS, FAAO:
We're here to
discuss recent investigations into the Fusarium keratitis issue and Bausch &
Lomb's recent decision to withdraw its lens care product, ReNu with MoistureLoc,
as a result of these probes.
Our goal is to gain perspective on some of the
circumstances, the investigational outcomes, and the lessons that have been learned
from this experience. Joining me on this distinguished panel are:
■ Jack Schaeffer, OD,
President, Schaeffer Eye Centers, Birmingham, Ala.
■ Christopher Snyder,
OD, professor of optometry and Chief of Contact Lens Patient Care at the University
of Alabama at Birmingham.
■ Angela Panzarella,
corporate vice president of Bausch & Lomb Global Vision Care, the company's
contact lens and lens care division.
■ Praveen Tyle, PhD,
corporate senior vice president and chief scientific officer for Bausch &
■ Gary Orsborn, OD,
director of medical marketing for Bausch & Lomb.
We will start by asking Ms. Panzarella
to provide an overview of developments that unfolded in the marketplace. Dr. Tyle
will then discuss the scientific aspects of the investigations.
OVERVIEW OF FUSARIUM
Angela Panzarella: In November
2005, the Ministry of Health officials in Hong Kong contacted us to ask us for information
in connection with reports of an increased incidence of contact lens keratitis in
their country. Bausch & Lomb's contact lens care products were not disproportionately
represented in the case reports. In other words, patients reported using various
lens care products, and the number who reported using our products was roughly equivalent
to our market share in the region about 40%.
We tested retained samples from Hong
Kong and found that they were well within specifications. We provided this information,
along with some other requested data, to the Ministry of Health. At that point,
the keratitis cases appeared to us to be part of an isolated local outbreak, and
no further action was required.
In mid-February 2006, shortly
after the Hong Kong cases had been closed, the Singapore Ministry of Health reported
to us that it was seeing an unusually high number of Fusarium keratitis cases and
that most of the affected patients were using ReNu. Based on inquiries from Singapore,
the Health Department in Hong Kong reported that they, too, were now seeing unusual
trends in Fusarium infection associated mostly with ReNu. In both markets, ReNu
with MoistureLoc was the only ReNu formula sold for the past year. Because of the
statistical association with MoistureLoc, we immediately suspended sales of the
product in both Hong Kong and Singapore.
We started a massive investigation
involving thousands of tests of the product and our manufacturing facilities. None
of those tests revealed evidence that the product was contaminated or ineffective
against the Fusarium solani fungus when used under normal conditions.
THE FDA AND THE CDC ENTER THE PICTURE
While investigating these
cases, we maintained regular contact with regulatory authorities around the world,
including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease
Control (CDC). We also reached out to major eyecare centers across the globe, as
well as to leading experts in the field of fungus and corneal infections. One of
our goals was to determine if unusual trends in fungal keratitis had developed in
This was a challenge because
we were working primarily with anecdotal reports, not solid epidemiological data.
Our other challenge, working within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability
Act (HIPAA), was getting access to U.S. patient information quickly. As a result,
the CDC's involvement was very helpful in gaining speedy access to patient information.
On April 10, the CDC reported it was investigating about 100 suspected cases of
Fusarium keratitis in the United States. Of the confirmed cases, most reported using
While we had initially suspected the
outbreak might be a local phenomenon associated with the tropical conditions in
Hong Kong and Singapore, it now appeared there might be an association with the
manufacturing facility in Greenville, the facility that had supplied MoistureLoc
to the United States, as well as Singapore and Hong Kong.
We immediately suspended worldwide
sales of ReNu with MoistureLoc produced at our facility in Greenville, S.C. A few
days later, we asked retailers to remove the product from store shelves and asked
patients to stop using the product.
At this point, I will turn the discussion
over to Dr. Tyle, who can provide a thorough review of the scientific aspects of
our overall investigation and its conclusion.
Praveen Tyle, PhD: We were
puzzled because MoistureLoc had been shown to perform very well against Fusarium
solani. In comparative antimicrobial efficacy studies published when Bausch &
Lomb launched the solution, MoistureLoc demonstrated a 4 log reduction for fungus
(Fusarium solani) and yeast (Candida albicans), well beyond the 1 log reduction
required by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
may recall from CDC reports and scientific literature, the risk of developing, any
type of microbial keratitis is approximately 4/10,000 in daily soft lens wear and
approximately 21/10,000 for extended soft lens wear, or a five times greater relative
risk. The reported Fusarium keratitis infection rate associated with the use of
MoistureLoc solution is extremely low, 2/1,000,000 units sold (1,000 times fewer)
or less then 5/1,000,000 soft contact lens users (400 times fewer) compared to extended
soft lens wearers.
This very low incidence
rate made a single cause and effect for the infections very unlikely, and it also
made the design of experiments a significant challenge. Nonetheless, we carefully
studied multivariate circumstances with concurrent investigations.
One of our inquiries focused
on Bausch & Lomb's manufacturing facility in Greenville, S.C., which supplied
MoistureLoc to the three countries where Fusarium keratitis had been first reported.
The FDA and the CDC conducted environmental monitoring of sterile and nonsterile
areas at the plant and found no Fusarium solani. We examined all records and conducted
risk analyses and uncovered no potential causes for lots associated with the infections.
We also analyzed the process
used in manufacturing MoistureLoc, and we identified no significant differences
between the facility in Greenville and our plant in Milan, Italy, where MoistureLoc
was being manufactured for other European markets where we had not seen unusual
increases in Fusarium keratitis cases.
We compiled a database of more than
500 lots of ReNu with MoistureLoc to determine if common ingredients or manufacturing
equipment were associated with complaints. We found no evidence of sterility failure,
contamination, tampering or counterfeiting for any products shipped from Greenville.
We worked with a Fusarium solani genetics
expert at a major university to identify and genotype isolates sent to us from ophthalmologists
and health authorities. He concluded the following:
1) The isolates from the keratitis
infections were typical of Fusarium found in bathroom drains and sinks.
2) The Fusarium solani strains we had
been provided were not of the same origin (appearing to rule out contamination from
a single source).
In addition, results of all microbiology
testing including ISO/FDA Stand-alone Biocidal Efficacy tests and real-use
clinical testing with worn lenses demonstrated that MoistureLoc was highly
efficacious against the standard reference American Type Culture Collection (ATCC)
and the recovered clinical isolate strains of Fusarium solani.
■ No issue at the Greenville
■ No contamination or
failure of the MoistureLoc product as it was delivered to the market
■ Not a single or exotic
strain of Fusarium solani associated with the infections
■ No significant differences
in process and components between the two MoistureLoc manufacturing facilities.
People have speculated about
possible causes of the Fusarium keratitis. Below are questions that we answered
with our research.
■ Did the active
disinfecting agent in MoistureLoc easily sequester into a contact lens, rendering
the solution biocidally ineffective?
Previously worn soft lenses (FDA Group
IV) were inoculated with approximately 1 million CFUs of Fusarium solani, rinsed
with MoistureLoc, and placed in the solution for 4 hours, as indicated by the product
label. Results of testing and recovery demonstrated that the lenses and the MoistureLoc
soaking solution passed the acceptance criteria required in ISO/FDA regimen testing.
Patients in a separate study were asked
to process their lenses (Group IV) under normal circumstances using ReNu with MoistureLoc
and other multipurpose solutions for 3 days. Lenses were then inoculated with a
clinical isolate of Fusarium solani that had been sent to us from one of these keratitis
cases. Results showed a 4-log reduction for Fusarium solani for ReNu with MoistureLoc
solution, far exceeding efficacy standards.
■ Did MoistureLoc contain
ingredients, such as Polyquaternium 10 (Polymer JR), that supported the growth of
microorganisms based on the ingredients' cellulose moiety?
We evaluated each component of ReNu
with MoistureLoc, including the active disinfecting agent, alexidine. These formulations
demonstrated greater than 4-log reduction when challenged with Fusarium solani,
as measured by the ISO/FDA Stand-alone Biocidal Efficacy test.
We also evaluated 21 formulations
of individual components of MoistureLoc, or combinations of key components, and
inoculated these without alexidine. In 19 of 21 cases, samples demonstrated no increase
in Fusarium solani after 28 days of incubation. In fact, many samples, including
Polyquaternium 10 (Polymer JR), caused a decrease in the number of Fusarium colony
forming units, definitively refuting the belief that Polyqua-
ternium 10 (Polymer
JR) might promote the growth of Fusarium solani.
■ Could MoistureLoc
be associated with increased risk of infection when it was subjected to stressful
We focused on Polyquaternium 10 (Polymer
JR), Tetronic and Pluronic F127, which give the product the highest level of polymers
of any major lens care product. These unique ingredients also included alexidine,
the new disinfecting agent. At extremely high temperatures and humidity levels,
the solution was found to be biocidally efficacious and passed ISO requirements
for a disinfecting solution.
NONCOMPLIANCE A FACTOR?
Another key question for
us was whether ReNu with MoistureLoc increased risk of infection among patients
who did not comply with their prescribed care regimens.
Our analysis of used lens cases
from patients who had been infected showed that the cases were contaminated, dirty
and, in some cases, cracked. We also saw dirty and contaminated caps and tips from
returned bottles. Finally, we had learned that many patients were topping off their
solutions. We attempted to replicate the possible impact of some of these noncompliant
habits in the laboratory, including poor hand-washing or rinsing, not cleaning or
replacing lens cases regularly, leaving bottles open, and leaving filled lens cases
By reducing the water content in MoistureLoc
to 2x and 4x concentrations, we attempted to simulate the evaporative effects of
a lens case being left open or a bottle being exposed to air from an open cap. We
tested all components, including the disinfectant, using the ISO/FDA Stand-alone
Biocidal Efficacy test. ReNu with MoistureLoc demonstrated a significant loss in
efficacy against Fusarium solani that was not evident in identical tests of MultiPlus.
The results showed that MoistureLoc
was apparently more sensitive to concentration effects due to evaporation under
certain noncompliance practices by lens wearers. A reduction of disinfecting ability
identified in the test may have been caused by micelle or film formation due to
the higher concentration of polymers in MoistureLoc.
EXTREME CONDITIONS TESTING
The next question was whether
the polymer film left on a lens case from evaporation or residue buildup could support
or protect Fusarium solani. We added an inoculum of Fusarium solani to MoistureLoc
(without the disinfecting active ingredient alexidine) and allowed the product to
dry, creating a polymer film containing Fusarium solani. When dry, the lens case
was challenged with different strengths of MoistureLoc and checked for viable Fusarium
solani after 4 hours.
The ATCC strain did not recover
from being dried with the MoistureLoc excipients in the lens cases. It did not recover
from subsequent reconstitutions of MoistureLoc that contained 0%, 25%, 50% and 100%
(full strength) alexidine. However, a New Jersey patient's Fusarium solani isolate
did survive being dried down with the MoistureLoc excipient in the lens case. The
isolate was recovered after it was exposed to the solution at full strength, 50%
strength, 25% strength, and with a placebo. We also found that the number of colonies
of Fusarium solani increased as the concentration of alexidine decreased.
MultiPlus, meanwhile, performed well
against both strains and did not show viable Fusarium solani in the product film.
Additional laboratory testing has tended to confirm differences in how MoistureLoc
and MultiPlus function under simulated noncompliance situations.
We now believe that multiple
factors, which may have converged in unusual circumstances, could have allowed some
ReNu with MoistureLoc users to contract Fusarium keratitis. Below, in summary, are
some of the key factors:
reuse and topping off of solution in the lens case result in some loss of disinfecting
efficacy of the formulation. Evaporation/concentration of ReNu with MoistureLoc
can result in a reduction of biocidal efficacy which could develop when lens cases
were left open.
■ Other noncompliant
behaviors, which were inconsistent with package instructions, are known to have
occurred and to have been associated with the infections.
■ Fusarium solani needs
to be present in the environment, as confirmed by a Fusarium solani
Fusarium solani can adapt and be protected by polymer films on the surfaces of lens
cases and bottle tips as well as in the solution.
■ Overall, the formulation
was found to show reduced efficacy as the concentration of all components, including
the total polymer package (used to promote comfort of contact lens wear), increases
Although the ReNu with MoistureLoc
formulation still met every regulatory criterion for safety and effectiveness, and
no Fusarium solani contamination had been found in our manufacturing facility, Bausch
& Lomb's inquiry focused on whether there was an aspect of this formulation
that, in combination with noncompliant usage, could put lens wearers at greater
risk of contracting a Fusarium solani infection.
RENU MULTIPLUS AND MULTI-PURPOSE
It is important to note
that the CDC has determined MoistureLoc is the only multipurpose solution to have
a significant association with Fusarium keratitis in contact lens wearers. ReNu
MultiPlus and the original Multi-Purpose solutions have not been implicated because
they are not disproportionately represented in the case reports.
These solutions, which are completely
different from MoistureLoc, have replaced MoistureLoc in starter packs and on store
shelves. They have been longtime consumer favorites (MultiPlus since 1997 and Multi-Purpose
Solution since 1987) and also have unsurpassed records of safety and effectiveness.
In fact, more than 30 million consumers have used ReNu MultiPlus since it was introduced
in 1997. Each formula offers unsurpassed biocidal efficacy against the full range
of ocular pathogens, including Fusarium solani, as required in the ISO/FDA Stand-alone
Biocidal Efficacy test.
In addition, MultiPlus has been shown
to be highly effective in extreme testing conditions, such as the evaporation and
the polymer film studies conducted as part of our investigations. There are no unusual
trends in Fusarium solani infections in markets where only ReNu MultiPlus and Multi-Purpose
solutions are sold, including Canada, Japan and Taiwan.
In Japan, three times the number of
consumers use ReNu MultiPlus as those who were using MoistureLoc in Hong Kong and
Singapore. Yet not one case of Fusarium keratitis has been reported. This is significant
because the medical monitoring and reporting systems in these three countries are
among the most vigilant in the world.
We have also conducted studies using
ReNu MultiPlus to show effective mean log reduction in ISO/FDA Stand-alone Biocidal
Efficacy testing against 54 clinical isolates of Fusarium solani species, including
clinical isolates known to have caused some of the recent keratitis cases.
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: September 2006