Businesses often want government to institute monopolies because maintaining a monopoly in a relatively free market in anything is practically impossible.
Barring its outright elimination of the prescription requirement, competition must be protected from abuses. That’s what Congress sought to do in 2003 when it passed the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act.
Among other things, it required prescribers to automatically provide copies of the prescriptions to patients so that they could shop around, including shop online or at discount stores such as Costco and Wal-Mart. As expected, this competition, which has led to more cash in consumers’ pockets, hasn’t been welcomed by those who would prefer to see prices artificially inflated. Ever since the enacting of that law, a group called the Coalition for Patient Vision Care Safety—which is made up of Johnson & Johnson, the other major contact manufacturers, the American Optometric Association, and other special interests—has sought to weaken and undermine the reforms.
Unfortunately, those efforts have been rewarded. This week, a bill was introduced by Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., called the Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act of 2016, which would place pointless and costly new mandates on sellers and eliminate market competition.