The Refresh PM backorder saga: What to do?

Posted by Rebecca Petris on

Quick Facts

  • Refresh PM and Refresh Lacri-Lube are temporarily out of production
  • Backordered since Oct 2017 and no expected in-stock date available
  • Local shortages of generic eye ointments are starting to be reported
  • See table below for alternative products and advice
  • Please add your comments below about what's available near you
  • Contact us (phone/text/email/chat) to get on our email list for status updates or just call 877-693-7939

Refresh PM Status Details

Last updated: 8/7/2018

Status: No estimated in stock date. The most recently provided date was Jan 2019, but that was withdrawn as the non-production time is expected to be protracted.

Background: Refresh PM has been on backorder at the manufacturer since early autumn 2017. Production was halted due to a facility setback. Initially, they were providing estimated in-stock dates and shifting them as the situation evolved, but now (August 2018) they are no longer providing any estimated in stock date as they are reportedly working on an alternative manufacturing arrangement. They have confirmed the product has not been and will not be discontinued, however.

Alternative ointments to consider

 Brand Status White Petrolatum Mineral oil Other ingredients
Refresh PM (Allergan) Manufacturer backorder 57.3% 42.5% Lanolin alcohols
Refresh Lacri-Lube (Allergan)
Manufacturer backorder
56.8% 42.5% Chlorobutanol (preservative) and lanolin alcohols
Equate Restore PM (Walmart)
Available 57.3% 42.5% Lanolin alcohols
Walgreens Lubricant Eye Ointment
??? [Getting reports of limited availability] 57.3% 42.5% Lanolin alcohols
CVS Nighttime Dry-Eye Relief
Available 57.3% 42.5% Lanolin alcohols
Retaine PM (Ocusoft)
80% 20% -
Soothe Night Time Ointment
Manufacturer backorder (till Aug 24)
80% 20% -
Genteal Ointment (Alcon)
Manufacturer backorder (timing unk)
Anhydrous liquid lanolin 
Systane Nighttime Ointment (Alcon)
Anhydrous liquid lanolin

Which one should you try?
 If you are used to Refresh PM, I recommend using one of the generics (Walmart, Walgreens or CVS) because they are the most similar. 

INGREDIENT MUST-KNOWS: Lubricant eye ointments are pretty simple products. They are all mostly petrolatum and mineral oil (like vaseline). Most of them also contain lanolin alcohol and one of them contains a preservative. But the main difference amongst the various lubricant eye ointments is the PROPORTION of petrolatum to mineral oil. Some people manage fine on any ointment, but some people find that too much petrolatum can be irritating.

DID YOU KNOW? Refresh Lacri-Lube is the only commonly available lubricant eye ointment that contains a preservative (chlorobutanol).

DID YOU KNOW? All lubricant eye ointments contain lanolin alcohol EXCEPT Retaine PM and Soothe Nighttime. If you have to switch up ointments anyway, maybe it's a good time to try one without the lanolin alcohol.

DID YOU KNOW? We have a handy ingredients reference page with active and inactive ingredients of all sorts of eye lubricants that you can use to research and compare drops, gels and ointments any time. Add it to your favorites - and consider letting your doctor know, too! 

Anyway, the scuttle-but on Equate, Walgreens and CVS ointments is mixed. It might, or it might not, do as well. It might even irritate. Your mileage may vary. It is remarkable to me though that some people see such a marked difference between the name brand and others while others don't. It's a pretty simple product, according to the label, so one can really only speculate about differences in the sourcing and grades of the ingredients - all those details that don't find their way on to the label. But I don't doubt they ARE at least slightly different, based on the experiences I've been hearing from patients who are highly motivated to make it work!

Non-ointment alternatives

I know many people who cannot tolerate ointments. They use polymer gels instead. A polymer gel is made of the same stuff as many of the popular drops, but in a higher concentration and in a tube rather than a vial or bottle. Genteal Gel is far and away the most popular of these. What you must be aware of about gels is that they usually contain a "dissipating preservative", one of those preservatives that supposedly dissipates on contact. Talk with your doctor and use only what they approve, of course. I know a great many severe dry eye patients that have used Genteal Gel for years, and while it's not a personal favorite, I have a lot of respect for it because of the people I know who use it. Systane makes a lookalike, and no doubt there are generics available as well.

Then there's drops and gel-drops. For some people, the combination of a high quality drop with decent staying power (maybe one with an oil, or sodium hyaluronate) plus a mask, shield or goggle can perform just as well as an ointment if not better.

Maybe it's time to revisit your overnight strategy altogether

There are three different aspects of dry eye night care, in my opinion:

  • Preparation: Warm compress, for those who need them or are so inclined.
  • Lubrication: Drops, gel, or ointment. You find what works for  you.
  • Physical barrier protection: This is especially critical for those whose lids do not fully seal overnight, but anecdotally, it seems to help most people with severe overnight symptoms regardless of their lids. For examples, check out our Night Protection products collection.

My point here is that it is not just all about the goop. Set your eyes up for a really good overnight experience across the board. For some, though certainly not all, this will help reduce your dependence on the availability of any one lubricant product.

Want us to keep you up to date on Refresh PM or Lacri-Lube status?

We have a list of people to notify by email or phone when anything changes. It's always possible that something could change for the better and that Refresh PM could come back sooner than expected. We can only hope so, anyway! We can call or email you as soon as Refresh PM is back in stock. Please contact us (email/phone/text/chat) and we'll put you on the list. Don't worry - signing up for this will not subscribe you to our general mailing list or any other.


We are getting so many calls and emails from people whose doctor told them to get Refresh PM. They go to every drugstore in town, then eventually go online and find out about the backorder. Help us get the word out to spare people that nuisance. Patients, tell your doctor! Doctors, tell your patients! Thanks all!

keywords: Refresh PM, ointment, Lacrilube, Lacri-Lube

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  • After the Refresh PM initial backlogI switched to Soothe and really liked it!! It has been about six months since I have been able to purchase it locally in Maine. Now using Walgreen’s generic. Sure hope that sticks around!!

    Hilly on
  • Well I’ll try one of these recommended alternatives. But any idea when Refresh PM will be back in stores?
    FYI, don’t buy from amazon, they are charging between $116 and $160 for one little tube. Outrageous!!

    Janine Lawton on
  • I received the Xailin Night ointment today and used it right away and my eye is still burning. It does NOT have the same exact ingredients as Refresh PM and unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me. I had an acoustic neuroma removed 31 years ago and have right-sided facial paralysis and I do not make any tears in my right eye. I have been using Refresh PM or Lacri-Lube, as it used to be called, all this time and it’s the ONLY product that works for me. I don’t understand why it’s taking so long to get back up and running. I would think that Allergan would make it a priority! This is a unique product and some people, like me, depend on it.

    Cindy Kollinger on
  • Thank you for sharing the info and now I know why I couldn’t find the Refresh PM anywhere. After reading your post, comments, searching online, and calling around, I decided to buy the CVS generic one below. I have used it a couple of times and it seemed to work fine. I have permanent damage to my cornea from my toddler accidentally poking me in my eye with his fingernail so I used Refresh PM twice a day and am glad to have found the CVS generic (after a lot of searching).

    CVS Health Lubricant Eye Ointment Nighttime Relief, 0.12 OZ

    KLG on
  • when can I expect to find refresh pm again. I sure did depend on it for my dry eyes (per doctor) in the stores (Walmart) (drug stores) etc I sure do need it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE>

    utoka broadaway on

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