House Subcommittee Urges FTC to Modernize Contact Lens Verification Process

As the FTC seeks additional public comments on the proposed Contact Lens Rule, Congressional intent to protect patient safety remains clear

The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (Alliance) this week expressed its support of the House Committee on Appropriations for urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to update the process by which contact lens prescriptions are verified.
 
The Committee report, which accompanies the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) funding bill, comes as the FTC is accepting additional public comments on the proposed Contact Lens Rule. Patient safety advocates have repeatedly called attention to flaws in current rules related to prescription verification.
 
The FSGG report, which can be read here, states:
 

Contact Lenses. — In May, the FTC released a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking detailing potential adjustments to its proposed changes to the Contact Lens Rule. This ensures that the FTC will receive additional input from the public and stakeholders on potential improvements to the rule to address patient safety and enforcement mechanisms, among other issues. The Committee urges the FTC to address the need for the prescription verification process to be modernized to provide for adequate enforcement of the law.
 
Thomas Swinnen, North America President of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. and member of the Alliance, stated, “This report language reflects the importance of amplifying patient eye health and safety issues with policymakers. We’re pleased that the Committee recognizes the need to modernize the prescription verification process—a critical step in maintaining the doctor-patient relationship at the center of patient care.”

For several years, Alliance members and patient safety advocates have called for updated verification methods that would ensure patients receive the proper medical devices they were prescribed by their eye care professional.
 
In 2018, the Alliance submitted comments to the FTC that highlighted the problems with the current prescription verification system. The comments read, in part, “FTC action to modernize its guidance around passive-verification communication while excluding antiquated technology (e.g. robocalls) would provide greater documentation and the possibility of greater oversight in the [prescription] verification process. Greater oversight, understanding and documentation will ultimately create a safer and more efficient environment for contact lens wearers and the verification of their prescriptions through clearer, concise and accurate communication between the prescriber and the seller.”
 
“The doctor-patient relationship is central to the widespread enjoyment of contact lenses. A key part of that equation is ensuring what was prescribed is ultimately provided, as each contact lens is precisely selected for a patient’s specific vision and health needs,” said Michele Andrews, OD, Senior Director, North American Professional & Academic Affairs, CooperVision. “We are committed to advancing healthy contact lens wear for millions of consumers and encourage the FTC to share in this responsibility by addressing and fixing outmoded verification techniques.”
 
The Alliance encourages patients to share their stories of how antiquated technology in the prescription verification process has been detrimental to their vision health. To share your story and tell the FTC to protect patient safety, visit www.PatientSafetyToday.com/Share_Your_Story.
 
Deanna Alexander, OD, Chairwoman of the Alliance, concluded, “For a significant period of time, patient safety advocates, like the members of the Alliance, have shared the potential dangers that could stem from the FTC’s current rules related to contact lens prescription verification. Now, as Congress makes it clear that they believe it’s time for a verification system that protects patients’ vision health, the Alliance is hopeful that the FTC will carefully consider adjustments to the Contact Lens Rule to better safeguard patients.”

The Alliance was founded in 2018 to advocate for patient safety and to protect and defend the doctor-patient relationship—the essential foundation of personalized health care decision making. For more information, please visit www.PatientSafetyToday.com.


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