US court halts contentious law on contact lens price-fixing

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal court has blocked a new Utah law that bans price-fixing for contact lenses and could have wide-ranging implications for the industry amid an increasingly bitter fight between manufacturers and discount retailers.

Lens maker Alcon Laboratories cheered the decision Thursday by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. That company, Johnson & Johnson and Bausch & Lomb argue that the law is an unconstitutional overreach written specifically to benefit Utah-based online discount retailer 1-800 Contacts.

While retailers say lower prices are better for customers, manufacturers argue that setting minimum prices protects eye doctors from being undercut.

The 10th Circuit order reverses a lower-court ruling and puts the law on hold as the legal challenge plays out.

The Utah Attorney General declined to comment on the decision.