Senate Subcommittee Urges FTC to Modernize the Contact Lens Verification Process

Senate Subcommittee Urges FTC to Modernize the Contact Lens Verification Process

Latest action from the U.S. Senate means both Chambers have called on the FTC to act in the interest of patient health & safety

(WASHINGTON) – The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (Alliance) yesterday applauded the Senate Committee on Appropriations’ urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to update the process by which contact lens prescriptions are verified. 

The Committee report, which accompanies the Senate Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) funding bill, comes as the FTC reviews 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 Senate FSGG report, which can be read here, states:

Contact Lenses.—The Committee is encouraged by the FTC’s acknowledgement of certain patient safety concerns in its most recent draft Contact Lens Rule. While the Committee is pleased the FTC has proposed some improvements to previous drafts related to prescription release, electronic delivery, and illegal substitution, the Committee remains concerned that the FTC has not sufficiently addressed the need for the prescription verification process to be modernized to provide for adequate enforcement of the law. Therefore, the Committee urges the FTC to reevaluate its definition of direct communication and consider eliminating the use of automated telephone verification messages, to ensure an effective prescription verification process exists to allow the FTC to properly enforce the rule.

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 July, the Alliance submitted comments to the FTC that highlighted the problems with the current prescription verification system. The comments read, in part, “APS is very concerned with several patient-safety issues regarding automated telephone verification and invalid verification requests that may lead to the alteration of a patient’s contact lens prescription and excessive-quantity sales. Individually, each of these issues pose significant threats to patient eye health. Together, they create an environment where eye health problems have a strong correlation to the disregard for appropriate contact lens care and the implicit de-valuation of a regular eye health exam, which is critical to ensure the safety of contact lens interaction with patients’ eyes.” 

Recent action by both the U.S. House FSGG and Senate FSGG demonstrate Congress shares the Alliance’s concerns on how the current contact lens verification process can jeopardize patient safety.

In response to the action taken by Senate FSGG, Deanna Alexander, OD, Chairwoman of the Alliance stated, “Yesterday’s action by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee shows that the Alliance’s patient safety advocates are being heard by Members of Congress. We thank the Committee for their work and attention to this important issue. Now, as the FTC continues to review comments on their revised Contact Lens Rule, it’s time for regulators to recognize the need to modernize the way in which prescriptions are verified to ensure patients’ vision health is protected.”

The House Committee on Appropriations FSGG Subcommittee passed similar language in June 2019.

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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