Crisis Management at Bausch & Lomb - The 'ReNu Moistureloc' Controversy

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG129
Case Length : 21 Pages
Period : 2005-2006
Organization : - Bausch and Lomb
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : USA, Asia
Industry : Eye Care

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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ReNu Eye Infections - The Initial Reports

In January 2006, Singapore health officials noticed a sudden increase in the number of reported cases of keratitis in contact lens users. On February 17, 2006, Singapore's Ministry of Health alerted the public that 18 of the 22 patients, who were affected by keratitis, had used ReNu MoistureLoc.

Between January 2006 and February 2006, they discovered 39 cases of keratitis. Of these, 34 patients said that they used ReNu MoistureLoc. Similar cases were also reported in Malaysia and Hong Kong...

In February 2006, B&L stopped shipments of ReNu MoistureLoc to Singapore and Hong Kong although they maintained that the infection was not linked to their product. B&L partnered with health authorities and researchers to investigate the extent and cause of the outbreak.

In a press release in March 2006, B&L announced that it was collaborating in a scientific investigation with health authorities and leading experts around the world including the CDC, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, and the Ministries of Health in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia, to determine the extent and cause of the increase in infection among contact lens wearers.

It, however, claimed that the cases reported in Asia involved examples of poor patient compliance with lens care regimens and contact lens wear, such as wearing expired lenses and re-using disposable contact lenses. These investigations did not reveal any cause-and effect relationship between ReNu MoistureLoc and keratitis (Refer Exhibit VII for B&L's press release).

A Hazy View At B&L?

As B&L stopped shipments of ReNu MoistureLoc, US retail giants like Sears Holdings Corp. (Kmart, Sears Essentials, and Sears Grand stores), CVS Corp. (CVS), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,, Walgreen Co. (Walgreens), Rite Aid Corp. and all Albertson Inc.'s owned chains, including Jewel-Osco and Shaw's, pulled ReNu MoistureLoc off their store shelves. Walgreen went a step further and took all ReNu products off its shelves, not just the ones with the ReNu MoistureLoc formulation line, to prevent confusion among customers. Synsam and Specsavers Blic Optik of Sweden also pulled ReNu MoistureLoc off their shelves...

Competitors Eye B&L's Market Share

As of April, 2006, more than 30 million people wore contact lenses in the US and the estimated global market for lens care solutions was US$1.8 billion. In terms of market share, B&L, Alcon Inc. (Alcon), and Advanced Medical Optics, Inc. (Advanced Medical) held the top three positions in the market (Refer to Table IV for Global market share of top three players in Lens Care). B&L's ReNu MoistureLoc alone accounted for 9.2% of the market share in U.S. lens care solutions...

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