ATR today released a letter urging members of the House of Representative and Senate to reject any efforts to undermine the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Contact Lens Rule. The rule was issued on a unanimous, bipartisan basis to ensure that consumers have the freedom to purchase contact lenses from wherever they want whether that is from their optometrists or from a third party.
Blocking the FTC’s Contact Lens Rule would undermine patient freedom for the 45 million contact lens users across the country. Passing legislation now, during a pandemic, also threatens to increase costs and reduce healthcare choice and access.
In 2003, President George W. Bush signed the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA), which was enacted to ensure consumers had the freedom to purchase contact lenses from wherever they choose without interference. The new FTC rule builds on the FCLCA by requiring optometrists to obtain signed acknowledgement from patients that they have received a copy of their prescription. The FTC rule also continues to allow automated phone prescription verification, which is one of the most effective ways to preserve competition and consumer freedom. Rather than forcing a third-party retailer to wait indefinitely for a prescriber to verify the prescription, this requires the retailer to wait a full business day (eight hours) before fulfilling a consumer’s order.
These reasonable requirements were adopted because of cases where bad actors attempted to infringe on the freedom of consumers to fill their prescription wherever they choose to, whether that be through the optometrist directly or through a third party.
While lawmakers should support proposals that lower the regulatory burden and reduce red tape, there should not be concerns that the FTC rule adds to an optometrist’s regulatory burden.
Moving forward, Members of Congress should ensure the free market is protected and that consumers have the freedom to purchase contact lenses from optometrists or from a third party.
Blocking the rule will only make it more difficult and more costly for Americans to fill their prescriptions, creating unnecessary financial and healthcare burdens on the American people during the pandemic. Any efforts to undermine or delay the FTC Contact Lens Rule should be rejected.