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One-step solutions renew lens care arena.

NEW YORK -- Retailers and suppliers agree that the recent introduction of one-step lens cleaning solutions has helped breathe new life into the eye care category.

Disposable lens use has increased dramatically in recent years, and although that segment of the industry has profited manufacturers of lens cleaners had been wary about the effect that the proliferation of such products would have on their business. Still, results from at least one survey seem to indicate that their apprehensions are unfounded.

According to the poll (conducted for Bausch & Lomb), the use of lens cleaning solutions has been rising among replacement lens wearers. And other studies have shown that up to 40% of people who use disposable lenses retain them longer than prescribed. Furthermore, wearers of disposable lenses use more lubricants than people with traditional lenses, in part because they wear them more frequently.

Another reason for the upswing in sales of lens cleaning solutions is that eye care specialists are encouraging patients with both disposable and conventional contact lenses to remove and clean them regularly.

The category's future seems even more promising. The aging of the baby boom generation is bringing about a major increase in the number of people afflicted with eye problems that require corrective lenses and ophthalmic treatments.

Major manufacturers are responding to the growing need with a host of new products for both contact lens care and eye problems.

Allergan Inc. -- which makes lens care items, prescription drugs to treat diseases of the eye, and over-the-counter artificial tears and ocular decongestants -- recently rolled out Complete, a one-bottle solution for cleaning, rinsing, disinfecting and storing soft contact lenses. The product, designed for use with all types of soft lenses, includes a lens case in every pack.

The supplier makes daily cleaners, enzymatic cleaners and disinfecting solutions as well.

Last year Allergan entered into an alliance with Fisons Corp. to copromote ophthalmic pharmaceuticals -- including Acular, the former's solution for relieving itch associated with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis.

Alcon Laboratories Inc. has a number of products in the eye care category as well -- led by its Opti-Free line. Earlier this year the company introduced two products: Opti-One, a detergent-free, multipurpose solution for soft contact lenses; and Opti-One rewetting drops, a companion product.

"The debut of the Opti-One line provides eye care professionals the opportunity to choose between it and the Opti-Free systems to meet the demands of their patients' wearing schedules," says group product director Orlando Rodrigues.

Opti-One is ideal for lenses that are replaced every two weeks or more frequently, he adds. Opti-Free is better suited for lenses prescribed for replacement after extended periods, because of its separate daily and weekly cleaners.

Alcon's ophthalmic division markets prescription medications for glaucoma, infections, conjunctivitis and other eye diseases.

"At the time of our rounding in 1947 no pharmaceutical manufacturer focused on the needs of eye care professionals," says a spokeswoman. "Prescriptions written for eye infections were taken to local pharmacists who compounded the medicines using distilled water. Patients had no guarantee of strength or sterility."

The company's line of prescription products includes:

* Betoptic, Pilopine HS and Isopto (all for glaucoma).

* Ciloxan, Tobrex and Natacyn (anti-infective medications).

* Flarex, Econopred and Maxidex, (anti-inflammatory products).

Among the firm's nonprescription products are:

* Estivin, Isopto, Naphcon and Zincfrin (to relieve redness).

* Bion and Tears Naturale (artificial tears).

* Eye-Stream and Adsorbonac (an irrigating solution).

* Adsorbonac (an antiedemic).

Ciba Vision Corp. recently rolled out Quick Care, a system that company executives believe will revolutionize the category. It's designed to enable soft contact lens wearers to clean and disinfect their lenses in five minutes -- 60 times faster than traditional systems. "Quick Care allows lenses to be ready when wearers are," says president Stuart Heap.

The system consists of starting and finishing solutions formulated to work together. It thereby combines such functions as cleaning, rinsing, disinfecting and soaking into a 5-minute process.

Free disposable lens cases are packaged with the bottles of starting solution to reduce the chance of infection which can result from contamination of lenses cases.

Ciba Vision also makes the Aosept system, which features a disinfectant, a neutralizer, a lens holder and cup, and eye care products marketed under the MiraFlow and Soft-Wear labels.

Another supplier that's focused on that part of the market is Bausch & Lomb. It makes the Sensitive Eyes line, which includes a saline solution, a daily cleaner, an enzymatic cleaner and eyedrops.

The firm, which also makes ReNu lens care solution, recently expanded that line with a one-step enzymatic cleaner. The brand also includes rewetting drops and a saline solution.

The new solution is designed to clean and disinfect soft contact lenses in four hours. According to the company, that's about half the time required by competing brands.

Eight-count boxes (a 4-week supply) of the new product are expected to be on the shelves of chain drug stores and other mass marketers by September. They will be priced at approximately $4.30 and supplement effervescent and thermal enzymatic cleaners that will remain in the line.

"This introduction is good news for retailers looking to build brand loyalty with customers," says product manager Karen Kall. "Our multi-purpose solution is one of the top brands recommended by eye doctors. This has resulted in exceptional sales growth at retail, because consumers are likely to purchase lens care products recommended by their doctors and to remain loyal to those brands."

In addition to its study on the effect of disposable lenses on the market, Bausch & Lomb is conducting multisite clinical evaluations on patient perspectives in lens care.

The company also provides assistance to its retail customers with Resource 2000, a shelf management program that is being used by 80% of Bausch & Lomb's clients for product distribution and planogramming. A spokesman for the company says that Resource 2000 (which can be used with merchandise from competing manufacturers) has gained in popularity because of the product proliferation in the category and the program's ability to control inventory.

In another segment of the eye care category, Del Pharmaceuticals Inc. offers Stye: 0.13-ounce tubes of ophthalmic ointment to relieve burning, stinging and itching eyes. The product, a staple in drug stores for over three decades, has gained significant distribution in supermarkets and other retail outlets as well. "Because of its small size it's become a real profit generator for stores that carry it because it requires relatively little shelf space," says a company spokesman.

A companion product that Del debuted last year is Stygiene, a sterile liquid for cleaning the crusted buildup from sleep, dirt and makeup that can accumulate on the eyelids. It is available in 2- and 4-ounce bottles and comes with either 30 or 60 lint-free cotton pads.
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Title Annotation:lens cleaning solutions
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Aug 15, 1994
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