The Japan Fair Trade Commission has raided the offices of several contact lens manufacturers for alleged breaches of the country’s antimonopoly laws.
Last week Japanese authorities searched the Tokyo offices of lens manufacturers Alcon Japan, CooperVison Japan and Seed Co. All three companies acknowledged the investigation, and said they were cooperating with the authority.
The raids were related to accusations that the companies had forced retailers to not publically advertise the prices of some disposable contact lenses on promotional leaflets and online advertisents. The companies were also accused of effectively banning certain products from being sold online, The Japan Times reported.
Phrases such as “special prices” and “10 percent cuts from shop prices”, without listing what they would be sold as at full price, were reportedly used in advertisents.
The manufacturers are also believed to have pressured retailers to comply by threatening to suspend their supply of products.
According to The Japan Times, the companies were attempting to protect their lenses from falling prices due to increased competition in the sector. According to Statista, total revenue for Japan’s contact lens market amounts to US$2.9 billion (AU$4.3 b), with annual growth predicted at 2.4%.
This is not the first time Japan’s Fair Trade Commission has acted on contact lens manufacturers. Johnson & Johnson’s Japan subsidiary received a warning in 2002 over similar conduct. In 2010, the company was issued with a cease and desist by the FTC for breaching the Antimonopoly Act, under the charge of “Dealing on restrictive terms”.
The company was found to have forced retailers to not display the sale price of particular products.