View from City Road: MMC shows 20-20 vision

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The Independent Online
Hurrah for a thoroughly clearsighted report from the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, slamming the absurd system under which contact lens cleaning solutions can be sold only through chemists and opticians.

The only puzzle is why it has taken so long for anyone to do anything about such a patently anti- competitive arrangement. The rules were imposed back in 1976, on the basis of flimsy evidence that consumers were getting eye infections because of contaminated solutions.

But any of the UK's 2 million contact lens wearers, who have been paying over the odds for the stuff for more than 17 years as a result, could have waxed lyrical about the absurdity of allowing Safeway et al to sell dangerous drugs like paracetamol yet not a simple saline solution. Did it really need an MMC report to force the Government to see the light?

The commission's time would have been better spent on looking into the way some drug manufacturers abuse the product licensing system by applying for stiffer-than-necessary licences to ensure their products are sold through the cosily profitable medium of the chemist's shop. Still, presumably the MMC now has some spare capacity?

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