Federal Antitrust Agencies Submit Joint Statement Encouraging Puerto Rico to Consider Giving Authority to Optometrists to Prescribe Medications

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In response to a request by Puerto Rico Representative Jose L. Báez Rivera, the Federal Trade Commission staff and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division have submitted a statement encouraging the Puerto Rico legislature to consider expanding the scope of practice for optometrists.

Rep. Báez Rivera asked for the agencies’ views on the possible competitive impact of Puerto Rico Senate Bill 991 (SB 991), which would permit optometrists in Puerto Rico to use and prescribe medications to diagnose and treat eye diseases. All states, the District of Columbia, and other U.S. territories currently grant licensed optometrists some authority to use and prescribe medications.

The statement is limited to SB 991’s proposed expansion of optometrists’ authority to use and prescribe medications and its competitive effects. The statement describes the potential benefits to patients of enhanced competition among eye care providers, which may include improved access and lower prices. It recommends that the legislature “only maintain those restrictions necessary to ensure patient health and safety.”

The Commission vote to issue the statement was 3-0. (FTC File No. V160011; the staff contact is Katherine A. Ambrogi, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2205.)

The Federal Trade Commission develops policy initiatives on issues that affect competition, consumers, and the U.S. economy. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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