The Refresh PM backorder saga & ointment shortages

Posted by Rebecca Petris on

Quick Facts

  • Refresh PM and Refresh Lacri-Lube are unavailable and not expected back before late summer 2019. 
  • Statement from Allergan.
  • Availability of other ointments, both generic and name brand, has fluctuated a lot; currently many are unavailable locally
  • See table below for detailed product status

Want updates by email?

  • Contact us (phone/text/email/chat) to get on our email list for status updates or just call 877-693-7939
  • Contact the manufacturer to be notified 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: Out of production. It may be back on the market in late summer or early fall 2019.

    Background: Refresh PM has been on backorder at the manufacturer since early autumn 2017 due to issues which have forced them to change from metal to laminate tubes. There are delays involved in re-launching the product in new packaging.

    Current status of popular lubricant ointments

    Please let us know if you have corrections for this list. Last updated 2/21/19.

     Brand Status White Petrolatum Mineral oil Other ingredients
    Refresh PM (Allergan)
    Out of production at present
    57.3% 42.5% Lanolin alcohols
    Refresh Lacri-Lube (Allergan)
    Out of production at present
    56.8% 42.5% Chlorobutanol (preservative) and lanolin alcohols
    ActiveEyes (Generic for Refresh PM)
    Available online 57.3% 42.5% Lanolin alcohols
    Equate Restore PM (Walmart)
    Available online 57.3% 42.5% Lanolin alcohols
    Walgreens Lubricant Eye Ointment
    Has been unavailable for many months. Reasons unknown. 57.3% 42.5% Lanolin alcohols

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


    Has been unavailable for many months. Reasons unknown.


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


    Available online.
    94% 3% Anhydrous liquid lanolin 3%

    Retaine PM

    3.5g size discontinued

    5g size expected to be available sometime later in 2019

    80% 20% -
    Soothe Night Time Ointment


    80% 20% -
    Genteal Ointment (Alcon)
    Very limited local availability, but confirmed still in production.
    Anhydrous liquid lanolin 
    Systane Nighttime Ointment (Alcon)
    Very limited local availability, but confirmed still in production.
    Anhydrous liquid lanolin



    Most ointments are pretty scarce at this point, and the two gels increasingly so, but to the extent you can find any ointments locally, here are some tips.

    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. ADDENDUM: There have been ongoing shortages of both Genteal and Systane gels for some months now too.

    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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    • (Posting on behalf of a reader)

      Hi Rebecca, I appreciated your informative article about Refresh PM and alternatives while its on backorder. I thought I’d give you some feedback on what I tried, you are welcome to share part of this to the community – or not. I’ve used Refresh PM since last July when I had facial paralysis due to Ramsay-Hunt Syndrome. My eye functions pretty close to normal now, but I still use nighttime ointment and 3M Kind Removal silicone tape every night out of habit (and fear). {I discovered the 3M silicone tape from your awesome website!!}
      I tried an 80/20 nighttime ointment (sorry, i threw it away and don’t remember the brand, but it was a generic product that Kaiser Permanente had as an alternative in their pharmacy when they ran out of Refresh PM). I found the 80/20 to be fine at application time, but it became very liquid and ran out of my eye by morning, probably from body heat.
      I am now using the Equate Restore PM which is a 42.5/57.3 ratio, so identical to the Refresh PM. The consistency is a little different; it seems to come out of the tube in a larger amount, even though the opening in the tube looks the same as the Refresh PM tube. I have not had any adverse reaction to it, as some reviewers have reported. It seems pretty much the same but in the morning feels a little thicker so a few more drops to get it all out of my eye. Overall, it is the best replacement for me while I’m waiting for the Refresh PM to return to the market. ’

      Rebecca on
    • Very helpful information! Thanks!

      Linda McKnight on
    • Thank you for this post! I’ve also been frantically looking for Refresh PM for months. Bought a few off eBay but will be running out soon. I also did a study on the ingredients like you did but none of the alternatives like CVS brand, genteal PM or Lacri Lube worked for me. Do you know what issue they have with production?

      MM on
    • Thank you so much for the update on availability and for the comparisons of brand ingredients.

      Nancy on
    • Please, what is the name of Walgreen’s generic for Refresh PM, you do not mention it only the amount of petrolium and minerol oil? thanks

      marilyn Leisz on

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