FTC Schedules a March 7 ‘Public Workshop’ to Explore Contact Lens Marketplace

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WASHINGTON—The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it will hold a public workshop March 7 to “explore issues regarding competition in the contact lens marketplace,” according to a recent FTC announcement. The hearing, which will be held at the FTC’s Constitution Center Conference Center here, also will address consumer access to contact lenses, prescription release and portability, and related subjects. The workshop is being held in conjunction with the FTC’s regulatory review of the Contact Lens Rule. As VMAIL reported, the commission issued a “notice of proposed rulemaking” in late 2016, at which time the commission announced its proposed changes to its existing Contact Lens Rule.

In place since August 2004, the Contact Lens Rule helps to “promote competition in the retail sale of contact lenses by facilitating consumers’ ability to comparison shop for contact lenses,” according to the FTC’s announcement. The rule imposes obligations on both ECPs and contact lens sellers.

Among the topics to be discussed at the March 7 workshop, according to the FTC, are:

• Consumers’ ability to comparison shop for contact lenses;
• The use of electronic health records, patient portals and other technology to improve prescription portability;
• The interaction between the Contact Lens Rule and emerging telehealth business models;
• The potential for new technology to improve the prescription verification process; and
• Modifications to the Rule to foster competition and maximize consumer benefits, including benefits to eye health.

The workshop is free and open to the public. The FTC also welcomes written comments on the issues to be discussed at the workshop. Interested parties may file a comment online until April 6 at: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/contactlensworkshop. FTC said it expects to publish a detailed agenda in advance of the workshop.