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ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (APS) said this week that it is pleased by a U.S. Senate committee’s move to schedule a markup of the Contact Lens Rule Modernization Act.  The markup will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 18, the APS announcement noted. The committee reviewing the proposed legislation is the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which is chaired by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) with ranking member Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). The “modernization” bill is being proposed as a way to counter some of the controversial components of the recently announced and updated Contact Lens rule from the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC’s new requirements for ECPs prescribing contact lenses took effect Oct. 17, as VMAIL reported.

Among the requirements of the FTC’s new rule there are directions related to robocalls and paperwork/record keeping for ODs. More information about the FTC’s changes is available in this VMAIL report.

The modernization bill in the Senate, which has bipartisan support, protects patients by requiring sellers of contact lenses to use either written electronic communication or a live phone call to properly verify a contact lens prescription, the APS announcement noted.

Currently, sellers most commonly use robocalls to verify contact lens prescriptions, a practice that can lead to patients receiving lenses other than those prescribed by their eyecare provider, according to the APS announcement.

In addition, the bill would eliminate the burden of collecting and maintaining paperwork from patients—the so-called signed acknowledgement form—and instead alert them to their patient rights via written notifications placed within prescribers’ clinics. The use of signage and other notifications is a standard implemented in California, where patient safety advocates find the measure informative and nonintrusive, the APS announcement noted.

“Since the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the final Contact Lens Rule in June, members of Congress from both parties and patient safety advocates from across the country have called for action to modernize the Rule to ensure prescription accuracy and better-inform patients of their rights,” said Dr. Deanna Alexander, OD, chairwoman of the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety. “We appreciate the committee’s attention to this critically important bill, which would improve patient protections for millions of contact lens-wearing patients in this country.”

According to APS, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers have gone on the record calling for changes to how contact lens prescriptions are verified and how patients are notified of their prescription rights.

APS has consistently advocated for these important measures to keep patients safe, including through advocacy with the FTC and Congress. “This bill’s inclusion in the Nov. 18 markup signifies an important next step in patient safety advocates’ effort to secure a legislative fix to a pair of issues that have not been addressed through regulation,” the announcement noted.