By Andrew Quinlan –
In its never-ending quest to corner the contact lens market, the American Optometric Association (AOA) has begun a new lobbying campaign to persuade the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to abandon its efforts to protect competition in the contact lens market.
The FTC has proposed to shore up its rules ensuring market competition by requiring eye care professionals to obtain a signed form from each of their patients verifying that a copy of their prescription has been received. This small step is necessary to break the government-created monopoly that large contact lens manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson have hugely profited from over the years.
Unfortunately, lobbyists have convinced Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) to lead a House “Dear Colleague” letter, sponsored by the AOA, to encourage the FTC to withdraw the new regulation. It should be noted that two of the largest contact lens manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson and Allergan, ranked #2 and #3 as the top donors to Lance’s 2016 campaign fundraising efforts.
Johnson & Johnson control 40 percent of the contact lens industry thanks to a history of offering eye care providers a substantial kickback on every sale of their products, thus encouraging product loyalty. The AOA and the manufacturers have lobbied hard over the years to try to maintain this symbiotic relationship at the expense of the 42 million contact lens wearers in the U.S.