The Federal Trade Commission held a public workshop in Washington, DC, on March 7, 2018 to explore issues regarding competition in the contact lens marketplace, consumer access to contact lenses, prescription release and portability, and related subjects. The workshop was held in conjunction with the Commission’s regulatory review of the Contact Lens Rule. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM) was issued in December 2016 announcing proposed changes to the Commission’s Contact Lens Rule.
The Rule, in place since August 2004, helps to promote competition in the retail sale of contact lenses by facilitating consumers’ ability to comparison shop for contact lenses. It imposes obligations on both eye-care prescribers and contact lens sellers.
When a prescriber completes a contact lens fitting, the Rule requires the prescriber to automatically provide the patient with a complete copy of the contact lens prescription, and to verify or provide the prescription to authorized third parties.
The Rule also requires that contact lens sellers dispense contact lenses only in accordance with a valid prescription the seller has received from either the patient or prescriber, or has verified via direct communication with the prescriber.
The workshop covered topics including:
- Consumers’ ability to comparison shop for contact lenses;
- The use of electronic health records, patient portals, and other technology to improve prescription portability;
- The interaction between the Contact Lens Rule and emerging telehealth business models;
- The potential for new technology to improve the prescription verification process; and
- Modifications to the Rule to foster competition and maximize consumer benefits, including benefits to eye health.
The workshop was organized into panels and panelists were selected by the FTC. Other attendees had an opportunity to comment and ask questions. Commission staff tweeted workshop highlights and took questions during the event @FTC using #ContactLensFTC.
The FTC also welcomes written comments on the issues to be discussed at the workshop. Interested parties may file a comment online at: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/contactlensworkshop.
You can find additional information about how to submit comments in the detailed public notice about the workshop. The deadline for submitting comments is April 6, 2018.
The workshop was free and open to the public, and was held at the Constitution Center, 400 7th Street, SW, Washington, DC. It was webcast live on the FTC’s website.