The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking additional public input on its next phase of proposed changes to the Contact Lens Rule—a result of thousands of public comments and material the commission received between 2015 and 2018, according to the FTC.

The latest proposal would require prescribers satisfy the new “Confirmation of Prescription Release” requirement in one of the following ways:

  • A separate, signed confirmation statement by the patient stating they received the prescription.
  • A prescriber-retained copy of the prescription signed by the patient.
  • A signed copy of the sales receipt by the patient confirming they received the prescription.
  • Proof that the patient received a digital copy of the prescription.

The prescriber would also have to keep the documentation on file for at least three years.

The public can also comment on the newly proposed digital copy prescription option in lieu of a paper record with a patient’s consent, and its recommendation that prescribers would have to give an additional copy of a patient’s prescription to a designated agent of the patient within 40 business hours of receipt of the request.          

To address concerns about incomplete or incomprehensible automated telephone verification messages—or robocalls—the FTC is recommending several new requirements for sellers: The information would need to be delivered in a slow and deliberate manner, at a reasonably understandable volume, and allow prescribers to repeat the message. “The purpose of these proposals is to enable prescribers to fulfill their role as protectors of patients’ eye health by ensuring they can comprehend sellers’ verification requests,” the FTC wrote in the release.

The FTC is also proposing modifications designed to reduce illegal prescription changes by sellers. “The Rule already prohibits prescription alteration, but some sellers appear to use passive verification to switch consumers from their prescribed lens to another lens brand,” the FTC wrote. Under the new proposal, a seller would have to send the prescriber a verification request with the manufacturer name or brand if different than the one specified by the prescriber. The only loophole would be if the patient specifically asked for the different brand name or manufacturer.

Another proposal would require sellers to provide a way for patients to present their prescriptions directly to the seller. “These changes are meant to ensure that consumers receive the lenses prescribed for them, consistent with the intent of the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act and the Rule,” the FTC wrote in the release.

The commission believes the newly developed modifications will achieve the goals of its original proposal, while imposing less of a burden on prescribers, the FTC wrote in the release. But many ODs remain skeptical.

 “I remain perplexed as to why the FTC continues to pursue an acknowledgment form requirement for eye doctors throughout the country with no substantial evidence to support such a burden on doctors,” says Jeffrey Sonsino, OD, of Nashville. “I am optimistic that the FTC finally recognized concerns with online sellers and their use of robocalls and their actions regarding alterations of prescriptions, but I am concerned that the FTC will pursue a ridiculous regulatory over-reach penalizing doctors without any real evidence to justify such action.”

Federal Trade Commission. FTC seeks additional public comment on proposed changes to the contact lens rule. May 2, 2019. Accessed May 14, 2019.