Contested Utah law could impact $4 billion contact lens industry in bitter price battle

A law banning price-fixing for contact lenses that took effect this week in Utah is a setback for the nation's largest manufacturers that could have ripple effects across the country amid an increasingly bitter fight with discount retailers.

Steve DelBianco with the Internet trade group NetChoice says the new law appears to clear the way for the largest online discount seller, Utah-based 1-800 Contacts, to sell discount contacts across state lines despite minimum prices set by the lens makers.

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But contact lens manufacturers are fighting the measure in court. Johnson & Johnson, Bausch & Lomb and Alcon Laboratories say the law is an unconstitutional overreach written specifically to bolster the Utah-based online retailer 1-800 Contacts.

State officials have been vague on whether Utah companies can now sell at discounted rates to customers outside the state.