Several leading national retailers today announced the launch of a new coalition and advocacy campaign reportedly to serve as a voice for American contact lens consumers. The new group, the Coalition for Contact Lens Consumer Choice, will oppose legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Senate that would severely restrict where consumers can purchase their contact lenses. The group's initial members include 1-800 Contacts, Costco Wholesale, and Lens.com. Contact lens wearers, optometrists and other eye care professionals, consumer groups, good government advocacy organizations and other retailers and industry stakeholders with diverse perspectives are being invited to join the coalition. Read more.
This follows action on Capitol Hill. "Costco Wholesale Corp., 1-800 Contacts and other retailers attacked
newly proposed legislation they say would water down a federal law that
opened eye doctors to competition from online sellers and discounters," says Market Watch. "The
U.S. Senate bill concerning contact lens was introduced this week by
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R., La.), a physician, and Sen. John Boozman (R.,
Ark.), a former optometrist, and is backed by the American Optometric
Association as well as Johnson & Johnson and Alcon, the eye-care
unit of Novartis AG." Read more. (J&J, however, has withdrawn its UPP.)
Health Care Dive reports that "the seemingly simple process of ordering contact lenses has become a
tangled debate between retailers, optometric groups, and lawmakers. At
the core of the debate is the contact lens prescription, a ticket to
20/20 vision for an estimated 40 million American consumers. Although
the FTC enforces the requirement eye care professionals provide patients
a copy of their contact lens prescriptions, as required by the Contact Lens Rule (CLR), it seems many may not be complying. 1-800-Contacts, the largest U.S. contact lens retailer, announced
it filed 27,725 potential violations earlier this month with the agency
related to optometrists not releasing patient prescriptions.
Cindy Williams, general counsel at 1-800-Contacts, told Healthcare
Dive those violations were compiled over from December 2015 to March
2016 showing 'how extensive and widespread this problem is.'" Read more.