Company says its unilateral pricing policy is "appropriate and responsible".

Johnson & Johnson Vision Inc. is being sued by Maryland’s Office of the Attorney General, who alleges that the nation’s largest contact lens maker conspired with retailers to set a higher minimum price on contact lenses, the Baltimore Sun reports.

The article cites documents that were obtained during the AG’s investigation, which indicate that “customers are paying 35 percent more for a monthly supply of Acuvue lenses based on a pricing strategy imposed on club membership discount stores,” referencing a pricing agreement with Costco that’s named in the lawsuit. The AG is seeking civil penalties for what it says are violations of Maryland’s anti-trust law.

Such pricing strategies started cropping up about two and a half years ago, with The New York Times reporting last year that all four of the major contact lens makers have enacted policies that “that seek to limit what contact lens discounters can charge for certain products, setting minimum retail prices and threatening to cut off supply if dealers do not comply.” The contact lens companies say that this shifts the conversations between doctors and patients away from pricing and toward the clinical benefits of the lenses. Opponents, however, maintain that the strategy equates to illegal price-fixing and restricts consumer choice.

Read more at the Baltimore Sun