16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
As a practicing prescriber, the Contact Lens Rule has been bastardized by the online contact lens retail industry. I have always provided contact lens prescriptions (like the vast majority of prescribers) for patients to buy their contacts anywhere they choose, even prior to this legislation. The problem comes in when retail contact lens giants, like 1800contacts, do not properly verify contact Rx's by using an automated system that has a robotic voice that our staff can never understand. The system also uses bully tactics in the event the staff is busy by repeatedly calling trying to force the verification through. In addition, we get verifications all the time from patients we have never heard of. And if we don't respond in 8 business hours or if it's on the weekend, the lenses ship anyway. I like that the act requires release of Rx for those prescribers that made it hard for patients to price shop their lenses, but it ended up being overkill for the small amount that do not release Rx's. I have also had issues with 1800contacts wanting to fill RGP lens prescriptions, even though they have no doctors on staff to see the patient and check for proper fit, tear exchange. So it's another example of how the practice gives over a revenue stream, but still ends up being the one providing the actual service. Over the years, I have lamented the contact prescriptions that get filled incorrectly or that are filled far past expire dates due to unscrupulous practices by the contact lens online retail industry. Eyecare offices are busy enough in dealing with decreasing reimbursement on all fronts to then have to file formal complaints against the infringers or try and keep up with silly robotic voices at random times throughout the day. I don't know why the voice is so difficult to understand when we live in a day and age where software can converse with us almost as well as a native speaker. The law had good intentions, but has been a burden on providers who the vast majority of, have always tried to do the right thing by their patients. What I have found is the law has simply enabled more avenues of abuse by patients and online retail. The scary thing is patients can unwittingly do serious damage to their eyes with contact lenses, and there are increasingly numerous ways to skirt/outsmart the system in place to protect them.