Litigation against Advanced Medical Optics Continues to Expand as Company Moves to Re-Enter the Multipurpose Solution Business
(Santa Ana, CA) July 30, 2007 — Four more products liability lawsuits were filed yesterday against the manufacturer of Complete® MoisturePlus™ contact lens solution in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, California. The product was voluntarily recalled on May 25 at the request of the Food & Drug Administration in the wake of data collected and reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control linking the solution to a serious corneal infection known as Acanthamoeba keratitis. The new cases add to a growing number of injury and class action claims arising out of the recall.
The lawsuits, naming vision products manufacturer Advanced Medical Optics, Inc., and its former parent company, Allergan, were brought by Dolores O. Morse, PhD (#07CC01332), and Kelly Segerstrom (#07CC01333), both Southern California residents, as well as Jacqueline Grossman (#07CC01331) and Krista Nelson (#07CC01330), who are residents of Washington. All of the plaintiffs allege that they contracted Acanthamoeba infections while they were using Complete® MoisturePlus™ to disinfect their contact lenses. The cases were filed by Newport Beach-based Moore Labriola LLP, which also filed the first post-recall lawsuit against AMO on June 4 (#07 CC 01296). The plaintiffs are also represented by Michael Schmidt of The Schmidt Firm and Schmidt & Clark, both based in Dallas.
Acanthamoeba infections can be chronic, resistant to treatment, and often require surgical interventions such as corneal transplantation. They not infrequently lead to blindness. Morse and Grossman both underwent surgical procedures as the result of infection-related damage and have lost the use of the affected eyes. Segerstrom is hopeful she has gotten through the worst of her infection thanks to intensive treatments, but still experiences vision problems. Nelson, a 16 year-old, continues to fight her infection, which was diagnosed last November. She is believed to be the first minor to file suit against AMO since the recall.
“We expect the litigation to grow significantly over the next several months,” said attorney Michael Schmidt, who added that his firm represents numerous Acanthamoeba victims from across the Country. Schmidt noted that many of the victims are minors. “AMO specifically targeted teenage contact lens wearers, like Krista, in their marketing campaigns,” said Schmidt, who noted that young people appear to be particularly susceptible to the risks of ineffective lens disinfectants.
According to the lawsuits, studies published well before the product was recalled showed the disinfectant in Complete® MoisturePlus™ was vastly inferior to hydrogen peroxide as well as other multipurpose contact lens solutions on the market in eradicating Acanthamoeba. The plaintiffs allege that AMO was aware of the ineffectiveness of their product but concealed that information from consumers.
The new lawsuits come a week after AMO announced plans to re-enter the multipurpose lens solution business. According to recent press reports, the company says it will start distributing an “older” formulation of the recalled product as early as August. The product will reportedly feature revised labeling designed to improve safety, and will instruct users to manually rub their lenses during the cleaning process. AMO had previously represented to consumers that they could effectively disinfect lenses without a rub step, a practice considered unsafe by many optometrists and ophthalmologists.
Attorney Thomas Moore says his clients are concerned that consumers may be misled by the launch of the old AMO formulation and may incorrectly presume the solution is adequately effective against Acanthamoeba. “The label changes are all well and good, but AMO continues to ignore the root problem, which is the ineffectiveness of their disinfectant ingredient under real-world conditions,” says Moore. The solution will reportedly use the preservative polyhexamethylene biguanide, which is the same disinfectant used in the recalled product. “That ingredient in concentrations routinely used by AMO and Allergan has been shown to be ineffective against Acanthamoeba in many published studies,” says Moore, who added that if AMO wants to take a leadership position in the contact lens solution industry, “they should develop a disinfectant that works, and stop blaming consumers for infections which could be prevented with effective products.”