Bausch & Lomb Inc. said Tuesday it is pulling about 1.5 million bottles of its ReNu MultiPlus contact lens solution off shelves because trace amounts of iron could cause the cleaner to lose effectiveness earlier than normal.
The optical products maker also reported a modest drop in fourth-quarter and full-year sales in 2006, citing sluggish contact lens sales a slower-than-expected recovery from last spring's worldwide recall of its ReNu with MoistureLoc solution, which was blamed for an outbreak of severe fungal eye infections.
The company said it has carried out a limited voluntary recall of 12 lots of its ReNu MultiPlus solution after getting three customer reports of discolored solution. No one was reported hurt.
About a million bottles of the popular brand were distributed in the United States and another 500,000 in Canada, Korean, Taiwan and Latin American. The company has notified the Food and Drug Administration and regulators in the other affected countries of the recall.
'I want to emphasize that this is completely unrelated to and different from the MoistureLoc recall,' company spokeswoman Barbara Kelley said.
'There have been no serious adverse events associated with this occurrence, and the possibility of a serious adverse event is remote. There is an extremely low risk to consumers, as virtually all of the product has already been used.'
Bausch & Lomb determined the discoloration was caused by trace amounts of iron found in a single batch of raw material from an outside supplier. As a result, it said, the affected lots could have a shorter shelf life than the two-year expiration date.
Separately, the company said revenue for 2006 dropped 3 percent to about $2.29 billion following a recall and eventual discontinuation last spring of ReNu with MoistureLoc after the product became associated with an eye fungus that could blind users if left untreated.
Bausch & Lomb shares rose 1 cent to $50.43 in electronic pre-market activity, after closing at $50.42 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.
The company expects to report fourth-quarter revenue of about $598.5 million, down 5 percent from $626.4 million in the year-ago period, or 7 percent on a constant-currency basis.
Since the company has yet to close its accounting process for the year, it cannot estimate earnings per share, but reiterated it expects U.S. operations to be unprofitable because of the recall.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expect quarterly earnings per share of 27 cents on higher revenue of $619.7 million, and 71 cents per share on revenue of $2.32 billion for the year.