Shares of Bausch & Lomb (BOL) were among the worst-performing health-related stocks Tuesday, slumping 17% after the eye-care company halted U.S. shipments of its ReNu with MoistureLoc contact-lens solution because of reports of fungal infections in contact lens wearers.
The suspension follows the release of a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it is reviewing some 109 cases of suspected fungal keratitis, a rare infection that can cause vision loss. "The CDC data released today are both troubling and perplexing, as there is an apparent disproportionate representation of U.S. manufactured ReNu with MoistureLoc in the underlying data," Bausch & Lomb said.
Still, the company said that based on extensive testing, analysis and further internal reviews, "the available scientific evidence does not establish any type of ReNu solution as the cause."
The CDC has so far only reviewed 30 of the 109 cases, but 28 involved contact-lens wearers, Bausch & Lomb said. Of those 28 cases, 21 reported using ReNu contact-lens care products, while another five reported using a combination of ReNu and products made by other companies. Shares were trading down $9.85 to $47.59.Alcon (ACL), a rival that could benefit from Bausch & Lomb's troubles, saw its shares rise $3 to $104.22, while shares of another competitor, Advanced Medical Optics (EYE), jumped $1.95 to $47.42. Immucor (BLUD) rose 4% after the company announced a 3-for-2 stock split. The company, which sells reagents and systems used to identify the properties of blood, expects to distribute the shares May 15 to shareholders of record on April 24. "We have experienced a consistent rise in the value of our stock as a result of the success of the Galileo and our continuing success in improving both gross and operating margins," the company said. "This stock split is a result of the success of these strategies." The stock split marks the eighth one for the company since going public in 1985. Immucor shares, which have climbed about 35% since the last stock split in 2004, recently were up $1.10 to $31.09.