Updating the Contact Lens Rule
The FTC is planning to update its Contact Lens Rule, which requires contact lens prescribers to provide patients with a copy of their contact lens prescription after fitting is complete and prohibits sellers from providing contact lenses without a verified contact lens Rx.
Both 1-800 Contacts and the AOA have submitted comments to the FTC about the proposed update.
1-800 Contacts would like eyecare providers to require to patients to sign what the company is referring to as a “patient bill of rights,” informing patients they have the right to their prescription and to purchase contact lenses anywhere they wish.
According to Williams, enforcing the Contact Lens Rule is difficult. She says that the patient bill of rights would ensure that ODs are following the FCLCA and would be able to provide proof of such in case of a reported violation.
“Our main goal at the federal level is to be an advocate for the 41 million Americans who use contact lenses in an industry that is fraught with anti-competitive behavior,” Williams says.
In its comments on the Contact Lens Rule submitted in October 2015, the AOA asked the FTC to:
• Fix the broken passive verification system
• Ensure retailers can’t sell contact lenses based on an expired prescription
• Stop “robocalls” that the AOA says are often are difficult to understand or are incomplete
• Shut down online retailers that allow patients to purchase contact lenses without a prescription
• Ensure consumers are well informed about patient agency (retailers acting on behalf of the patient to contact the prescriber for the Rx), and prevent practices to assert patient agency that it calls deceptive
• Stop retailers from encouraging patients to stockpile contact lenses that far exceed the prescription length
• Stop retailers’ business practices that misguide patients on the requirements of the Rule
• Shut down retailers that do not follow the requirements of the Rule and target patients through social media and e-commerce sites
• Ensure retailers provide a reliably accessible live-contact person for doctors to discuss prescription problems, as outlined in the Rule
Dr. Loomis says the AOA is expecting the FTC to release its findings for comment this summer.
The AOA is part of the Coalition for Patient Vision Care Safety, which supports policies that promote patient health and safety. Also part of the Coalition are AdvaMed , Alcon, Bausch + Lomb, The Contact Lens Institute, CooperVision, and Johnson & Johnson. The Coalition supplied comments similar to those of the AOA to the FTC in support of amending the Contact Lens Rule.
“We strongly believe that the safe and appropriate use of contact lenses must be firmly grounded in a legislative and regulatory environment that prioritizes and recognizes the vital role of eye care providers in supporting patients’ health and safety,” says Peter Menziuso, president of North America at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.