In the era of patient choice, ensuring federal policies protect patients from deceptive marketing practices is essential, especially when it comes to prescription products. With over 40 million adults wearing contact lenses today, the Coalition for Patient Care Vision Safety is seeking to shine light on such marketing loopholes that exist in the marketplace.
In April, the coalition hosted a panel discussion with policymakers, congressional staffers and healthcare stakeholders in Washington, D.C. to advocate for safer patient access to contact lenses. Industry experts spoke to the value of annual eye exams, proper use and care of contacts lenses, and most importantly, how Congress can improve federal regulations to ensure safer vision care for Americans.
Panelist Dr. Carol L. Alexander highlighted how in today’s contact lens marketplace, patients have the opportunity to purchase products outside of medically supervised environments. She cautioned that while it’s important for patient choice to be part of the conversation, patient safety remains the key priority, which is not necessarily the case when a patient purchases contact lenses apart from a vision care provider.
According to a 2015 APCO Insight survey, one in three contact lens patients can purchase lenses using an already expired prescription. In fact, some online retailers complete sales based on expired or nearly-expired prescriptions, and encourage this practice despite the health and safety risks. With the FDA classifying contact lenses as Class II and Class III medical devices, it is important that patients look to a health care professional for their health care needs. One solution the panel offered to address these deceptive practices was to preserve the relationship between vision care providers and their patients, ensuring safe access to contact lenses.
Overall, the coalition is calling upon federal legislators to implement policy improvements that are best for patients, but still preserve competition in the modern contact lens marketplace. Identifying strategies to improve safe access to content lenses, without jeopardizing the well-being of the American public, is a solution the coalition hopes all stakeholders can support.