October 09, 2017
2 min read

National Consumers League weighs in on contact lens act

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The National Consumers League has suggested to the Federal Trade Commission that patients would be better informed of their rights to their contact lens prescriptions through reading a posted sign vs. signing a form.

The American Optometric Association has repeatedly and strongly voiced its opposition to the FTC’s proposed change to the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA) requiring doctors to collect a signed contact lens prescription acknowledgment form and keep it on file for at least 3 years.

In a letter to the FTC, National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg said, “It would be a positive and reasonable approach to require all contact lens prescribers to post a sign in their offices, which is clear and conspicuous, noting that patients have a right to a copy of their contact lens prescription.”

Greenberg said this type of signage is already mandatory in California and “seems to be working well” in that state.

“That’s a better solution, in our view, than having patients sign a form, which, like many other forms consumers and patients are asked to sign, they may or may not understand, and will result in more paperwork without necessarily achieving the desired result,” she said.

In a July 24 letter, 58 members of Congress stated that the FTC’s proposed change to the FCLCA is “an unnecessary requirement for patients and costly regulatory burden on the nation’s eye doctors.”

The letter detailed that, according to a 2017 Freedom of Information Act request, the FTC received 309 complaints, of which about half were unrelated to a violation of the law, regarding prescription release between 2011 and 2016.

“While the FTC should investigate and act on legitimate violations of the law and the rule, this relatively small percentage of complaints in relation to nearly 40 million contact lens prescriptions each year does not justify costly new industry-wide rules,” the letter stated.

These members of Congress estimated that, based on a study by Avalon Health Economics, the costs to an eye care practice of implementing this new regulation could be as high as $18,795 in the first year.

The AOA stated in a press release that it is “doubling down” its “efforts to educate lawmakers” on this “burdensome” and “wholly unnecessary” mandate.

AOA President Christopher J. Quinn, OD, told Primary Care Optometry News: “The AOA will continue to knock on every lawmaker’s and influencer’s door to educate them and compel the FTC to abandon this flawed proposal that will further stifle competition; raise costs for doctors, our small business and patients; and drives a wedge in our relationship with our patients.” – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO