Friday, March 6, 2015

Idaho and Utah Legislatures Consider Banning Current Contact Lens Pricing Policies; Law Suit Filed in California

"A company that sells contact lenses online has cleared its first hurdle in persuading the Idaho Legislature to ban manufacturers from cutting off retailers that don't sell their product at a set minimum price," reports the Idaho Statesman. "The Idaho House and Welfare Committee unanimously voted Thursday to send the bill to the House floor for a full vote.

"Online retailer 1-800 Contacts says consumers are paying more under a new pricing policy by the nation's top contact lens makers. Johnson & Johnson, the country's largest lens maker, countered that the pricing strategy has reduced contact lens prices and has made it more convenient to purchase their products. Three of the top four contact lens manufacturers — which make up 90 percent of the market — have implemented some sort of pricing floors, known as 'unilateral pricing policies.' This means retailers and optometry providers will be cut off unless they sell contact lenses at the price the manufacturer sets." Read more.

"Contact lens makers would not be allowed to set the sale price of lenses in Utah under a bill approved Monday by the Utah Senate," according to a Salt Lake Tribune post. "The bill comes in response to an announcement by Johnson & Johnson that the company planned to set a floor on the price that retailers can charge for lenses.

"'There should be some ability for consumers to have a choice,' said Sen. Diedre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, who noted that China fined Johnson & Johnson over the policy. 'If it's too anti-competitive and too predatory for China, we certainly should not be doing it in the state of Utah.'" Read more.

Law 360 reports that "Johnson & Johnson, Alcon Laboratories Inc. and other contact lens manufacturers were hit with a proposed class action on Tuesday in a California court over industry policies that allegedly create illegal price floors on lenses sold at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other major retailers. The complaint was brought by three customers who say the use of so-called unilateral pricing policies, or UPPs, by contact lens manufacturers have forced customers to pay artificially high prices for the product." Read more.You also can find more details about the law suit at Courthouse News Service.

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