Thursday, April 25, 2013
Blurry Vision: Parallel Imports, Medical Devices, and Competition in the European Market for Contact Lenses
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
P. Sean Morris, University of Helsinki - Faculty of Law reports on Blurry Vision: Parallel Imports, Medical Devices, and Competition in the European Market for Contact Lenses.
ABSTRACT: Shopping for prescription contact lenses is part of a daily routine common to many consumers in major parts of the world. Consumers usually choose to buy their prescription contact lenses from either their local eye care professional or a secondary online supplier. This freedom of choice benefits consumers and enables manufacturers of prescription contact lenses to expand distribution and increase sales. This Article provides an analysis of the market for prescription contact lenses in the European Union (EU). The Article explores the branding and pricing of contact lenses and posits that consumers who wear prescription contact lenses benefit from the option to purchase contact lenses online or offline. In addition, the Article argues that the nature of parallel trade in the EU facilitates such benefits for consumers. Therefore, the main goal of the Article is to determine whether and how the sale and pricing of contact lenses in the EU affects consumers, competition, and competition law. The research found that there is a healthy dose of competition in the market for contact lenses, that European consumers prefer shopping online for contact lenses, and that eye care professionals generally direct their customers to their online stores to purchase contact lenses as opposed to selling them offline in their brick-and-mortar operations.