Online contacts

Discussion in 'Contact Lenses' started by Charles, Mar 9, 2006.

  1. The online contact lens suppliers fought like hell to get a mandatory
    prescription release law. They fought hard enough that they won. BUT,
    the FTC agreed that there should be limits on how long the patient can
    refill an Rx. The resulting legislation has turned out to be a
    blessing and a curse to online sales. There has been a drop off in
    sales from those people who never had a valid Rx or had an expired Rx.
    The new law established rules for how the retailer has to verify that
    the Rx is not out-of-date.

    Here's the FTC's guidelines about the Fairness to Contact Lens
    Consumers Act:

    For Release: June 29, 2004

    FTC Issues Final Rule Implementing Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers

    The Federal Trade Commission has issued its final rule implementing the
    Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act. The Act, which was enacted on
    December 6, 2003, requires that contact lens prescribers provide
    patients with a copy of their contact lens prescriptions after a
    contact lens fitting and verify those prescriptions to any third party
    designated by a patient, such as an online seller. The Act mandates
    that a third-party seller may sell contact lenses to consumers if the
    seller obtains a copy of the prescription, or if the prescriber
    verifies the prescription information, either by confirming it or by
    correcting inaccuracies, or if the prescriber does not respond within
    eight business hours to the seller's verification request -
    so-called "passive verification."

    The Commission published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal
    Register on February 4, 2004, and accepted comments through April 5,
    2004. The Commission received more than 8,000 comments from
    prescribers, trade associations, sellers, state attorneys general, and

    The final Rule closely tracks the Act, and is consistent with the
    Act's overall goal of enabling consumers to comparison shop and
    purchase contact lenses from the seller of their choice. Specifically,
    the final Rule:

    Requires prescribers (such as optometrists and ophthalmologists) to
    provide patients with a copy of their contact lens prescription
    immediately upon completion of a contact lens fitting;
    Requires prescribers to provide or verify contact lens prescriptions to
    any third party designated by a patient;
    Prohibits prescribers from placing certain conditions on the release or
    verification of a contact lens prescription;
    Requires contact lens sellers either to obtain a copy of a patient's
    prescription or verify the prescription before selling contact lenses,
    and deems a prescription "verified" if, among other things, a
    prescriber fails to respond to a seller's verification request within
    eight business hours; and
    Establishes minimum expiration dates for contact lens prescriptions.
    The final Rule also allows third-party sellers flexibility in
    communicating with prescribers and requires sellers to keep records of
    all direct communications with prescribers.

    "This Rule focuses on competition and convenience for consumers,"
    said Howard Beales, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer
    Protection. "It really gives consumers, prescribers, and sellers a
    'clear view' about their rights and responsibilities under the

    The Commission vote to approve the final Rule and the publication of
    the Federal Register Notice was 5-0.

    Copies of the Federal Register Notice are available from the FTC's
    Web site at and also from the FTC's Consumer
    Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington,
    D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent,
    deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to
    provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To
    file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are
    available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150
    consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or
    use the complaint form at The FTC enters Internet,
    telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into
    Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of
    civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.


    Jen Schwartzman,
    Office of Public Affairs
    doctor_my_eye, Mar 15, 2006
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