The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to the Contact Lens Rule, as well as several other issues related to the 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. The Rule 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 vendors sell 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.
In September 2015, the FTC sought public comment on the costs, benefits, and impact of the Contact Lens Rule as part of its systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides. The Commission received 660 comments from interested parties and stakeholders. After reviewing these comments and other evidence, the agency has determined that it would be beneficial to increase compliance with the automatic prescription release requirement. The Commission therefore proposes to amend the Rule to require contact lens prescribers to obtain a signed acknowledgement after releasing a contact lens prescription to a patient, and to maintain it for at least three years. In addition, to conform the language of the Rule to the language of the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act, the Commission proposes to amend Section 315.5(e) of the Rule to remove the words “private label.” The Commission seeks comment on these proposed amendments to the Rule.
The Commission vote approving the Federal Register Notice was 3-0. It will be published in the Federal Register soon. Instructions for filing comments appear in the Federal Register Notice. Comments must be received on or before January 30, 2017. All comments received will be posted on the FTC’s website. (FTC File No. R511995; the staff contact is Elizabeth A. Delaney, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2903).
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