Dealing with FCLCA Regulatory Issues
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO, EDITOR
An American Optometric Association (AOA) advocacy group plans to ask the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to bar the use of automated messaging machines as a means of requesting contact lens prescription verifications under the new federal Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA). This is only logical -- if you're selling products to consumers that can harm one of their most precious organs, you'd want to make sure you knew the exact product specifications. You'd certainly know as an experienced seller in this field that even if many lenses are the same, they must properly fit each patient.
The AOA also plans to ask the FTC to issue a special set of rules regarding confirmation of lens prescriptions by satellite eyecare practices. It will also ask the agency to address issues related to prescribing specialty lenses and to extend the eight-hour maximum prescription verification response time designated under the legislation. The AOA plans to file formal comments on the Act with the FTC, based on input from AOA members and affiliated optometric associations.
Let's hope we can make some progress on limiting how sellers fill prescriptions. As one of our readers recently mentioned, the law should require patients to give up their original prescriptions when they order lenses from a supplier, and that supplier should sell only the specified number of lenses so that patients can't reuse their prescriptions to order unlimited numbers of lenses for years. One of the toughest problems remains in determining when we're sure of the final prescription in the case of a complicated custom, specialty lens prescription.
Soon you'll see more cases of friendly mail-order and Internet lens providers to which you may actually want to refer your patients. Consider the alternative of taking a risk that patients will fill their prescriptions at any phone- or web-based seller on their own.