The Refresh PM backorder saga & ointment shortages

Posted by Rebecca Petris on

Quick Facts

  • Refresh PM and Refresh Lacri-Lube are out of production, not expected back before mid 2019 at the very earliest
  • Refresh PM generic brand availability has been fluctuating
  • Other name brand ointments (different composition) mostly seem to be back in stock, with the exception of Genteal/Systane brands (both their ointments and their gels are on an indefinite backorder)
  • See table below for detailed product status
  • Contact us (phone/text/email/chat) to get on our email list for status updates or just call 877-693-7939
  • You can sign up on on the Refresh Brand website to be notified by the manufacturer when Refresh PM / Refresh LacriLube are available again. (Just be sure to read the fine print about the mailing list you may be joining at the same time.)

    Refresh PM Status Details

    Status: No estimated in stock date. I have been told it may not be until 2020.

    Background: Refresh PM has been on backorder at the manufacturer since early autumn 2017. They are experiencing ongoing manufacturing problems, however, to the best of my understanding they are committed to getting these products back on the market as soon as they can. Safety trumps speed and it's definitely not going to be available anytime soon.

    Current status of popular lubricant ointments

    Please let us know if you have corrections for this list.

     Brand Status White Petrolatum Mineral oil Other ingredients
    Refresh PM (Allergan) Out of production (est. at least another year) 57.3% 42.5% Lanolin alcohols
    Refresh Lacri-Lube (Allergan)
    Out of production (est. at least another year)
    56.8% 42.5% Chlorobutanol (preservative) and lanolin alcohols
    Equate Restore PM (Walmart)
    Available online 57.3% 42.5% Lanolin alcohols
    Walgreens Lubricant Eye Ointment
    Not available online. 57.3% 42.5% Lanolin alcohols

    CVS Health Nighttime Dry-Eye Relief Generic for Refresh PM.


    Not available online. Possibly discontinued?


    42.5% Lanolin alcohols
    CVS Health Overnight Ointment 
    Generic for Systane PM.


    Possibly available online?
    94% 3% Anhydrous liquid lanolin 3%
    Retaine PM (Ocusoft)
    80% 20% -
    Soothe Night Time Ointment


    80% 20% -
    Genteal Ointment (Alcon)
    Not available from manufacturer, may be available online or locally
    Anhydrous liquid lanolin 
    Systane Nighttime Ointment (Alcon)
    Not available from manufacturer, may be available online or locally
    Anhydrous liquid lanolin



    All ointments are getting scarce at this point, and the gels are as well, so we're all going to have to start getting creative till this crisis is past. 

    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. If you try to buy an ointment that is not on this list, please look out for preservatives or other irritants amongst the ingredients.

    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! 

    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 the "big picture" of your overnight strategy

    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.

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    • I contacted Walgreens online today and they said their product has been discontinued.

      April F on
    • Just some FYI. Like a lot of people have been trying to source this. In 2018 the internet is what we all do to find stuff. I kept looking online at Wallgreens and CVS and kept getting out of stock. Went a few times to the local stores and out of stock. Decided to go today and they had a fresh batch at CVS. Says out of stock online but they had them on the shelf.

      Thomas on
    • I don’t know what to do without either refresh pm, cvs generic or walgreens generic brands, I have tried sooth nighttime and walmart generic refresh and they burn my eyes. Anyone know anything about when refresh or cvs or walgreens generic will be coming back out or how to get info about it. thanks

      Michelle on
    • Hi,
      I would like to get in touch with Mary Seifert who commented on 29th September regarding the castor oil drops. Rebecca, can you please help ?

      Anjali on
    • I’ve had Bell’s Palsy and Sjrogren’s for 18 years. The ratio of Mineral Oil 42.5% / White Petrolatum 57.3% works best for my eyes. This current shortage is terrible. Thank you for posting articles and offering alternatives! I am now considering the nighttime goggles to use with my CPAP.

      BethS on

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