Contact lens giant Bausch + Lomb (B+L) has stopped producing its Fluorets product worldwide, it emerged yesterday (March 21).
The company has confirmed that it took the decision to cease production on commercial grounds, and claims that regulatory and safety issues were not a part of the decision.
Trademarked by the business in 1987, B+L was the sole UK producer of fluorescein sodium ophthalmic strips which are an important tool in clinical and contact lens practice.
B+L estimates that existing Fluorets stock will be depleted across the globe during May. It added that the remaining stock would be supplied in line with previous usage to ensure fairness.
In a statement issued by the contact lens firm, it said: “This decision was made after carefully considering a variety of factors, including alternative diagnostic options, availability of raw materials and cost. It is not the result of any safety concern or
While the College of Optometrists is expected to issue clinical advice on Fluorets in the coming days, the Optical Confederation has raised concerns about the impact that ceasing production could have on running costs for optical practices. As a result, the Confederation is actively seeking alternative sources of supply, but predicts this will be difficult.
B+L will continue to produce minims fluorescein sodium 1% and 2% eye drop solutions, and has agreed to work in partnership with the Optical Confederation to ensure adequate supplies are available.
Consultant optometrist and head of optometry at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, David Sculfor, told OT: “Every optometrist who does contact lens work uses Fluorets, either to check corneal integrity, or when fitting rigid lenses. Minims flourescein really isn’t a suitable alternative as it tends to flood the eye. Fluorescein only fluoresces below a certain concentration, and with a Minim it is very difficult to instill just the tiny amount needed. Patients won’t be happy either if they leave the clinic with yellow eyes and skin, and won’t be able to put their soft lenses back in until the fluorescein has washed out.”
Responding to the news, the GOC said that it was 'actively seeking clarity on the full implications for registrants and patients of Fluorets being withdrawn from the market. We do not regulate products or the optical marketplace.’
The regulator added: "We are in communication with stakeholders including the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), optical professional bodies and the UK health departments to obtain information on the legality of our registrants using possible alternatives to Fluorets."