The FTC is eyeing its Contact Lens Rule and has announced the agenda for a March 7, 2018, workshop, The Contact Lens Rule and the Evolving Contact Lens Marketplace.
In place since 2004, the Contact Lens Rule requires prescribers to automatically give patients their complete contact lens prescription after a fitting. The Rule also says that prescribers must verify the prescription – or provide it – in response to a request from an authorized third party. With this framework in place, consumers are empowered to comparison shop at a variety of traditional and online retailers for the lenses their healthcare professionals have prescribed, if they choose to do so.
We’re hosting the workshop in conjunction with the FTC’s regulatory review of the Contact Lens Rule. (A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was issued in December 2016 announcing proposed changes.) So how is the Rule working? To what extent are consumers able to comparison shop under the Rule’s prescription release and verification framework? How have new technologies, including electronic health records, affected the prescription verification process, and what other innovations might be on the horizon? Would any modifications to the Rule foster additional competition and maximize the health and financial benefits to consumers? Are there particular medical or safety issues that should inform discussion of these topics?
To talk about those questions and more, we’re convening a public workshop on March 7th featuring healthcare professionals, industry members, consumer advocates, law enforcers, and others.
After introductory remarks by Thomas Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Panel #1 will offer an overview of the contact lens marketplace. Panel #2 will feature medical professionals sharing insights on the health and safety issues the Rule implicates. The topic on the table for Panel #3 will be competition in the contact lens marketplace. Panel #4 will examine the prescription verification process and Panel #5 will take on issues surrounding prescription release and consumer choice. The last panel of the day will look to the future. Are there potential market disruptors that may have an impact on competition, consumer protection, and the Rule?
The event is free and open to the public. Registration begins at 7:45 a.m. at the FTC’s Constitution Center Conference Center, 400 7th Street, S.W., in Washington, DC.
Can’t make it to Washington on March 7th? We’ll post a link on the event page just before 9:00 ET that morning so you can watch the webcast live.