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UPP’s: a CL-industry initiative that has caught the attention of legislators

Unilateral Pricing Policy (UPP) is an initiative of the United States-based contact lens industry intended to ‘level the playing field’ and to re-motivate disenchanted prescribing professionals who have seen the internet ‘eat their lunch’ to such an extent that some simply do not promote contact lenses proactively to their patients despite the number that might benefit from their advantages.
The four main players are Alcon, Bausch + Lomb, CooperVision and Johnson & Johnson.
The situation is very similar here in Australia where contact lens practitioners are unable (mostly) to purchase contact lenses from the manufacturers’ official representatives, at prices often not even close to what internet sellers are ‘retailing’ the same product direct to users. Furthermore, most local manufacturers’ representatives are actually arms of the manufacturers thselves, most of whom are US-based, if not actually US companies.
The UPP approach came to Australia in 2014 and, as detailed below, was applied only to new, ‘expensive to bring to market’ products, such as Alcon’s Dailies Total1 lens line. When asked about what effect that policy had on motivation to fit contact lenses and practice profitability, one practitioner that Insight spoke to expressed the opinion that it was too little, too late, and that the horse had already bolted.
Some of the cases and/or arguments brought by the on-line suppliers name the American Optometric Association as a party to the dispute, not just the lens manufacturers.
Several suppliers have statents on their website informing potential purchasers that they are unable to discount some lens lines because they are subject to a UPP. Some go further and invite their customers to approach their local political representatives about the issue.
Insight is not aware of any legal moves or class actions being made in Australia – yet.
CooperVision too has some form of pricing support for prescribing professionals because, while not using the term UPP or even applying such a philosophy directly, its latest product range and company policies brochure lists among its CooperVision first loyalty support package, a promise to ‘match internet prices’ under the heading Internet price promise and an Everyday locked-in price for stockists of all their products.
More in May issue of Insight.

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