The FTC released a notice of proposed rulemaking and request for public comment based on its 10-year review of the Contact Lens Rule.
The proposal, if finalized, would require contact lens prescribers to obtain a patient’s signed acknowledgment indicating that they received their prescription at the end of their contact lens fitting, according to the commission.
“Such an acknowledgment would be a separate, stand-alone document, and prescribers would be required to retain the signed acknowledgments [for 3 years],” according to the notice.
The acknowledgment of release is intended to notify consumers of their prescription portability rights and increase the percentage of patients who receive their prescription from the prescriber.
Furthermore, the commission is soliciting comment on additional provisions.
First, a provision to increase patient “portals,” accessible via the Internet, which allow prescribers to post and patients to obtain prescriptions online, while maintaining patient security and privacy of health information, the commission wrote.
“It also could reduce the verification burden on prescribers, to the extent that patients could quickly and reliably obtain complete and accurate copies of their prescriptions without making specific requests to their prescribers for such copies and to the extent that such prescriptions could be filled without the seller intervening to verify the prescriptions directly with the prescribers,” the FTC continued.
Patient portal services also allow for prescription portability, the commission said.
A second provision allows for additional copies of prescriptions, which would provide, “additional protection for situations in which the eye doctor neglects to provide the prescription during the visit, as well as for situations in which the prescription is misplaced by the consumer,” according to the commission.
The last provision allows some sellers, who from the direction of their customers, have been designated to act on behalf of patients.
Written comments to the FTC must be received via mail or online submission on or before Jan. 30, 2017.
Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc. released a statement indicating that the company “remains committed to standing behind policies that protect patient eye health and vision safety. In the coming weeks, we will be working with the American Optometric Association and other partners in the Coalition for Patient Vision Care Safety to ensure that the FTC’s final decision is informed by the input of the eye care professional community.”
The Coalition for Contact Lens Consumer Choice praised the FTC proposals in a press release.
"If adopted, the FTC's proposed changes to the Contact Lens Rule would mark a major victory for contact lens consumers across the country," Cindy Williams, general counsel for 1-800 CONTACTs, a Coalition for Contact Lens Consumer Choice member, said in the release.
“These changes to the rule would strengthen enforcement of consumer rights and help address the primary deficiency of the current system, that optometrists routinely fail to automatically provide their patients with a copy of their contact lens prescription,” according to the press release.
The coalition also stated that the FTC found no increased risk from buying contact lenses from alternative retailers.