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Eye Drops and Eye Infection

Bausch & Lomb drops on reports of more infections

ImageShares of eye-care company Bausch & Lomb Inc.

fell more than 10 percent on Wednesday after reports from U.S. health authorities of more cases of a rare fungal infection linked with its contact lens solutions.

Bausch & Lomb early on Wednesday said it planned to review data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention related to its contact lens solutions.

Bausch & Lomb last month stopped shipping its contact lens solution ReNu With MoistureLoc after it was linked with an outbreak of Fusarium keratitis, a rare fungal infection that can lead to blindness and potential eye loss.

Bank of America analyst David Maris, in a research note on Wednesday, said new data indicate Bausch & Lomb's problems may not be restricted to its ReNu with MoistureLoc product, which the company stopped shipping last month.

"It appears from the latest CDC update ... the problem with fusarium is not limited to ReNu with MoistureLoc, but all of ReNu and other private-label brands Bausch & Lomb manufacturers," Maris wrote.

Harris Nesbitt analyst Joanne Wuensch, in a research note, said the number of reported cases of the infection has risen to 191, from 177 reported last week and 109 initially reported April 10. Confirmed cases now stand at 86, up from 77 last week.

She said the CDC has complete information on 58 people, of which 56 were contact-lens wearers, and 54 were users of a ReNu product.

Bausch & Lomb in a statement said 57 percent of cases preliminarily reported were users of its MoistureLoc formula, which is "significantly and disproportionately higher than its U.S. market share of less than 10 percent."

The company said that was the reason it voluntarily withdrew the product from the market last month.

"Bausch & Lomb's decision to pull one product and offer coupons for the other may have not been the most prudent if all of Bausch & Lomb's U.S. manufactured lens care products are implicated," Maris wrote.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been inspecting the company's manufacturing facilities in Greenville, South Carolina, in cooperation with the CDC. Bausch & Lomb said it continues to cooperate with the FDA and the CDC to determine the root cause of the infection.

Shares of Bausch & Lomb fell $5, or 10.3 percent, to $43.75 in Wednesday morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Additional reporting by Kenneth Li in New York)

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