Crisis Management at Bausch & Lomb (B): The 'ReNu with Moistureloc' Debacle

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG171
Case Length : 19 Pages
Period : 2005-2007
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Bausch & Lomb
Industry : Eye Care
Countries : Europe, USA, Asia

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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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Collateral Damage! Contd...

Four days later, the company asked retailers to stop selling MoistureLoc, but not before the retailers themselves had pulled the brand off the shelves, which resulted in bad publicity for B&L. B&L stopped short of recalling the product as its investigations as well as investigations of independent researchers failed to establish any cause-and-effect link between Moistureloc and the infection. The company contended that the infections were a result of improper use of contact lenses and the failure of consumers to adopt good lens care practices. It launched a consumer education program to promote awareness about the disease and to urge consumers to adopt good lens care practices.

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The CDC and FDA conducted investigations at the company's facility at Greenville, South Carolina, USA, to find out whether there was a link between MoistureLoc and the infection. Though the investigations failed to reveal any connection between the brand and the infection, the criticism of B&L from crisis management experts and consumers became more strident and B&L finally decided to recall MoistureLoc globally on May 15, 2006. B&L proposed that MoistureLoc, under certain unusual conditions, could actually be shielding the fungus rather than destroying it.

It said that though there was no great risk of infection, it was recalling the brand as it gave top priority to the safety of its customers. It also started concentrating on aggressively promoting its widely used ReNu MultiPlus multipurpose solution (MultiPlus) instead. Both CDC and FDA endorsed this view. However, analysts felt that the harm had already been done. By failing to act proactively in the face of the crisis, B&L had damaged its brand value, they said.

In August 2006, CDC in a research report concluded that MoistureLoc was responsible for the eye infections, though it could not ascertain how the brand was responsible.

This led to more criticism of B&L as many felt that the company had not paid heed to earlier reports of potential health hazards of its multipurpose solutions including MoistureLoc. It was also criticized for not owning up to the defect in its products and for trying to shift the cause of the infections to the lens care practices of consumers. But B&L contended that the CDC report had only vindicated its decision to recall the product and reiterated that MultiPlus was an effective alternative...

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