Legal Memorandum: Dispensing Contact Lenses by Mail in WI

Issue: Under the laws of Wisconsin, may a contact lens manufacturer dispense contact lenses by mail either directly to the consumer or to the consumer’s physician?

Area of Law: Administrative Law, Administrative Law & Regulation (Federal and State)
Keywords: Contact lens manufacturer; Contact lens dispensing services by mail; License requirements
Jurisdiction: Wisconsin
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Wis. Stat. § 449.02(1), § 449.01(2); § 449.01(1)(a), §§ 449.01-.19; Wis. Admin. Code §§ Opt. 1.01-.03; 5.01-.14
Date: 02/01/2001

           In Wisconsin, dispensing opticians need not be licensed.  Wis. Stat. § 449.02(1) (Supp. 1992).  A dispensing optician is one who, among other things, fills prescriptions of physicians and optometrists for ophthalmic lenses.  Id. § 449.01(2).  Duplications, reproductions and replacements may be done without prescription.  Id.  "Furnishing" contact lenses, however, is considered the practice of optometry, id. § 449.01(1)(a), which, of course, is highly regulated, see id. §§ 449.01-.19 (1988 & Supp. 1992); Wis. Admin. Code §§ Opt. 1.01-.03; 5.01-.14 (1993).

Accordingly, whether a manufacturer may dispense contact lenses by mail in Wisconsin depends on whether it is deemed to fall within the definition of "dispensing optician."  If so, the activity would apparently be free from significant restrictions.


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