Counterfeit contact lenses discovered in Singapore shops

Ciba VisionCounterfeit versions of coloured contact lenses manufactured by CIBA Vision have been found in optician shops in Singapore.

The fake versions of CIBA's FreshLook ColorBlends are very close copies of the original brand, but had some typographical errors on the packaging. The counterfeiting was discovered when retailers tried to exchange some of the packs with CIBA.

Singapore's Health Sciences Authority said this is the island's first known case of counterfeit health products being encountered in legitimate suppliers. Ten people have been detained for questioning in the investigation.

The contact lenses were not sterile and in some cases the storage liquid was contaminated with a recognised pathogen called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Coloured pigments usually found on the external surface of the lenses were also found on the inner surface where they would be in contact with users' eyes.

"The use of a counterfeit product, in particular, one that is placed directly on the eye, may seriously affect the user's eyesight and also potentially lead to serious complications such as eye infections, corneal ulcers (open sores in the outer layer of the eye) and blindness," said the HSA in a public advisory posted on its website.

The HSA discovered around 100 boxes of the contact lenses in five optician stores across the island. It has been suggested that the retailers were "knowingly" buying the supplies from an unauthorised supplier for a knockdown price.

Under Singapore law, anyone found supplying counterfeit medical devices are liable to a penalty of $100,000 and/or a jail term of up to three years if convicted.


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