Although the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission made the penalties against Vision Path dba Hubble public in late January 2022, conversation about the competitiveness of the contact lens market has been going on much longer. Federal Trade Commission Rebecca Kelly Slaughter issued a statement on Dec. 8, 2021, at the time of a proposed consent agreement. She wrote that the alleged violations that Hubble was facing are serious. However, she adds this:
“As I observed when the FTC finalized its review of the Contact Lens Rule in 2020, the market is woefully uncompetitive and consumers have little ability to seek competitive pricing or quality choices in contacts.1 I believe the agency has done much to exercise its limited authority to increase consumer choice in this market and encourage needed competition.2
“As a consumer of contact lenses and a believer in competition, I am eager to see startups
displace monopolists and break up ossified markets. But not like this.
“The FTC’s complaint lays out in detail our allegations that Vision Path played fast and
loose with the requirements of the Contact Lens Rule and Section 5, putting the health of their customers in danger, in their attempt to gain a foothold in this market. … These are allegations of serious deception and lawbreaking by a new market entrant. I write particularly to highlight the importance of thinking about the competition implications of this kind of consumer protection violation. We are not in the business of nipping startups in the bud; broader market concentration and structural problems should be our priority.”
She continued, “To serve the goal of a level competitive playing field, especially in markets that are ripe for competitive disruption, we must be vigilant in pursuing law violations by powerful incumbents, but we cannot ignore illegal conduct by new market entrants. By breaking down our competition and consumer protection silos and thinking with the whole of the FTC’s brain, we can incentivize law-abiding startups, increase competition, and help create a fair economy that works for everyone.”
1 Statement of Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter In the Matter of Contact Lens Rule Review, Federal Trade Commission (June 23, 2020),
2 See The Contact Lens Rule: A Guide for Prescribers and Sellers, Federal Trade Commission (June 2020)
SHARE YOUR IDEAS: Can contact lenses be more competitive with safe practices? Email email@example.com
See related story with Dr. Melissa Barnett – Penalties for Hubble Contacts a Win for Patient Safety.