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5 Things to Know About Opternative’s Latest Fight

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For one thing, more lawsuits are possible.

You may recall that Opternative recently filed a lawsuit in South Carolina challenging the state’s ban on its prescriptions.

The Chicago-based startup company, which offers online eye exams, says the restriction goes against its right to “pursue an honest living.” Opternative lost its ability to operate in South Carolina earlier this year when the state passed its Eye Care Consumer Protection Law.

The Daily Signal took a closer look at the situation. Here are five important things to know:

  1. The American Optometric Association continues to strongly oppose Opternative’s actions. “Having lost decisively in our state capital and still lacking any credible research or federal medical device approvals, they’ve come back to try to impose their profit-driven approach to health care on South Carolina,” said Barbara Horn, secretary-treasurer of the organization and an optometrist in South Carolina.
  2. The company argues that the restriction is about its business model, not health or safety. “They were banned because their technology interferes with the business model of established optometrists,” Institute for Justice attorney Robert McNamara said, according to the Daily signal.
  3. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley seems to agree. When the state legislature passed a bill stating that in order to get a prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses, you first have to be examined face-to-face, the governor vetoed it. The legislature then overrode the veto. Haley has said the bill uses “health practice mandates to stifle competition for the benefit of a single industry.”
  4. More lawsuits are a possibility. Opternative operates in 39 states and is banned in a few others, including not only South Carolina but also Georgia and Indiana. Aaron Dallek, the company’s CEO, has left the door open to further litigation, though he says the firm “doesn’t make threats.” He told the Daily Signal that Opternative will “work with those states to try to correct any legislative restrictions on our services.”
  5. This battle is not unique. Some are drawing comparisons to controversies surrounding other “disruptive” business models, such as ride-sharing. The Daily Signal writes that the challenges to Opternative “underscore debates taking place in state legislatures nationwide and in the courts following the rise of technology companies like Uber and Airbnb.”

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