FTC 16 CFR Part 315 Public Workshop Examining Contact Lens Marketplace And Analyzing Proposed Changes To The Contact Lens Rule
The proposed change to include a requirement that patients sign a document advising them that they are entitled to a copy of their contact lens prescription that would have to be kept on file for three years, in addition to actually giving them a copy of their prescription, will be an unnecessary burden on caring eye doctors such as myself. This is senseless and adds significant time and cost to a contact lens examination and will punish the overwhelming majority of eye care professionals who already comply with the rule. Why the FTC believes that additional rule making would prompt the scant few who choose to ignore existing federal law to suddenly become compliant makes little sense. What the new rule will certainly do is punish the innocent majority who already do comply. Far worse, it will do nothing to protect patients or consumer interests. It may also decrease competition, and I may just give up on contact lenses entirely. While enforcement of the existing rule would be more logical and effective, the FTC has shown little interest in prosecuting violators. Indeed, passive verification rules are flouted to the extent that intentional violation appears to be a part of the business plan of companies like Hubble, which routinely fill non-existent prescriptions with their own generic lenses. Other sellers intentionally game the system by calling at off-hours when offices are unable to respond in a timely fashion to decline expired or fabricated prescriptions. This happens monthly in my experience. There is common ground where the broad access and increased competition that the FTC seeks can coexist with the patient health and safety that I am sworn to protect. The proposed rule changes will not achieve this balance. Protecting consumer and patient interests would require that the FTC recognize and address the egregious abuses of online and big box retailers while increasing broad enforcement of all of its rules. The FTC should recognize that I am not the enemy of consumers, but an ally who is equally committed to protecting my patients' health and well-being. The impact of the proposed changes-especially the requirement for a written acknowledgement of prescription release in addition to the actual prescription, will be negative. The need for greater enforcement of existing rules is a more reasonable strategy than adding burdensome and, ultimately, unnecessary rules.