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AOA Approved for Group Purchasing of Lenses, Frames, Contacts

The U.S. Department of Justice gave its OK.

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The U.S. Department of Justice has given the American Optometric Association the nod to expand its group purchasing activities to include lenses, frames and contacts.

The association and its subsidiary AOAExcel GPO LLC had asked the department for a business review letter on the matter. Law360 explains that such a document can provide “proactive assurances of non-enforcement.”

The department explained in the Jan. 15 letter that it “presently does not intend to challenge the GPO’s expansion to include optometric products.” It noted, however, that it “reserves the right to challenge the GPO in the future if the GPO’s operations are determined to be anticompetitive in purpose or effect.”

Up until now, AOA’s group purchasing organization has only offered non-optometric products, such as professional liability insurance, credit card processing, life insurance, general office supplies, general medical supplies and equipment. It uses Intalere, a third-party healthcare group purchasing organization, as its agent to negotiate discounts on products and services.

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As of February 2019, 1,011 association member optometric practices had signed up to participate, and 251 practices had made at least one purchase.

The Department of Justice wrote: “Based on our investigation and your representations described above regarding the GPO [group purchasing organization] and its proposed expansion to include optometric products, the GPO expansion is unlikely to produce anticompetitive effects.”

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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