CooperVision Revises Unilateral Pricing Policy (UPP) On Some Products

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PLEASANTON, Calif.— CooperVision, a unit of The Cooper Cos. (NYSE:COO), is the latest contact lens company to make changes to its Unilateral Pricing Policy (UPP).

In a letter to eyecare practioners earlier this week, CooperVision said it was removing “effective immediately” three products from its UPP program: MyDay, clariti 1-day and Biofinity XR toric brands, “as well as customer brands where applicable. However, we are maintaining our UPP for Biofinity Energys,” the letter stated.

The recent moves by contact lens companies to revise or eliminate UPP programs, which both Alcon and Bausch + Lomb also have done over the past few months, follow a December ruling by a U.S. Court of Appeals that allowed a regulation prohibiting the application of UPP for Utah-based retailers to remain in effect, as VMail reported.The contact lens companies had sought an injunction against the prohibition while a case challenging the Utah regulation was in front of a U.S. District Court.

The online contact lens retailer 1-800 Contacts is based in Utah, and thus is in a position to undercut the pricing practices of other contact lens retailers, according to the CooperVision letter.

“Everyone at CooperVision holds our responsibility to ECPs and your patients in the highest regard,” CooperVision president, Americas, Jerry Warner said in the letter to ECPs. “Decisions with significant implications for our industry require thoughtful deliberation, not hasty responses. Just as we closely assessed the appropriate way to introduce our UPP, we are taking a similar approach now, initiating and ending the application of UPP to certain lenses only after careful examination of the relevant issues.”

In the letter, CooperVision said it developed UPP “as a short-term program to provide incentives for eyecare professionals to invest the time and effort needed to evaluate new contact lens technologies and to educate patients about breakthrough lenses—actions are that beneficial for ECPs and millions of wearers alike. Aided by our team, ECPs like you have productively responded to UPP and accomplished these goals.”

Utah’s Contact Lens Consumer Protection Act “has created a situation in which ECPs in other states, abiding by UPP, may be undercut by Utah-based online contact lens sellers,” the CooperVision letter explained. “These pricing inequities reduce the effectiveness of CooperVision’s UPP. The recent federal appeals court ruling upholding Utah’s law contributed to our decision to limit our use of UPP and continue to be selective in adopting or maintaining it.”

Alcon, B+L and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, which had previously dropped its UPP program, filed a lawsuit seeking to have the Utah law declared unconstitutional and sought the injunction until the lawsuit can be decided.

With respect to MyDay, clariti 1-day and Biofinity XR toric lenses, CooperVision said these lenses are now widely available and well established. “We believe that UPP has accomplished its purpose with regard to these lenses,” the letter noted. “However, Biofinity Energys is different. As the first lens of its kind, Biofinity Energys has achieved early success with eyecare professionals and wearers.

“We believe that ECPs stand to benefit from building additional familiarity with its breakthrough technology, especially given its relatively short time in the market and still-limited distribution. Our UPP encourages ECPs to continue learning about Biofinity Energys…We therefore believe that it still makes good business sense to continue UPP for Biofinity Energys. We will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of UPP as we go forward,” the letter noted.

Warner also noted that the company’s “approach to working with prescribers has not changed. We continue to pursue and implement new and enhanced ways to help you increase contact lens fits, practice profitability and patient retention, while fulfilling our shared purpose to help improve the way people see each day.”