FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Todd Hallidy
Phone: (302) 577-8314
Date: February 21, 2001
A.G. BRADY SETTLES WITH CONTACT LENS MANUFACTURER
Attorney General M. Jane Brady today announced a proposed antitrust settlement with Bausch & Lomb, Inc., that will prevent the company from limiting distribution of contact lenses and will guarantee at least $9.5 million worth of cash rebates and free products to consumers nationwide.
The settlement resolves antitrust charges that were filed against the company by 32 states, including Delaware, and a private consumer class. The lawsuit, filed in December 1996, alleged that Bausch & Lomb, Johnson & Johnson Vision Products, Inc., and CIBA Vision agreed with certain optometrists and the American Optometric Association to limit the distribution of contact lenses so that consumers would have to buy replacement lenses from eye care professionals. This agreement, the suit alleged, made it more costly and more difficult for consumers to buy the lenses from other sources such as the Internet or mail order companies.
According to Attorney General Brady, "This settlement means consumers will no longer be forced to pay artificially inflated prices for their contact lenses. They should now be easier and less expensive to purchase."
Delaware joined the other states today in filing a motion for preliminary court approval of the settlement and its terms. Under the terms, the company will no longer limit distribution of contact lenses. In addition, consumers who bought replacement lenses from Bausch & Lomb and the other defendants since January 1988 will be eligible to receive a cash rebate and a package of $120 worth of free products. The cash rebates will be given for eye exams and future purchases of Bausch & Lomb products.
The company is agreeing to pay $17.5 million to the states. At least $9.5 million is to be used for consumer rebates and free products. The amount that will be distributed to Delaware will be determined by the number of Delaware consumers that apply for relief under the settlement. Part of the fund will be used for an advertising campaign to educate consumers on how to benefit from the settlement. Consumers who want to apply for settlement relief can visit the following web-site starting Wednesday, February 21, 2001 at http://www.freecontactlensrebates.com or they can call 1-888-707-5880 (toll-free).
Brady's office is proceeding with the suit against Johnson & Johnson and the American Optometric Association. The trial is scheduled to begin March 19 in Jacksonville, Florida. CIBA Vision reached a settlement with the states in November, 2000.