The health care industry has been a hotbed of antitrust activity for several years now, but this year, the activity seems to have reached a fever pitch. Antitrust violations in the health care sector are enforced by both the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, as well as state attorney general’s offices and private parties. All three government entities have increased their scrutiny of potential antitrust violations in the health care industry over the past several years and, as opposed to showing signs of slowing down, they all are showing signs of ramping up their efforts.
This intensified scrutiny was front and center at the recent American Bar Association spring meeting in Washington, D.C., where health care was a common topic of debate. Antitrust health care issues were discussed in multiple sessions and referenced in comments by government officials. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz released the agency’s 2012 annual highlights at the spring meeting. The highlights for 2012 included “Promoting Competition in Health Care and Containing Costs of Prescription Drugs: The commission works to prevent anticompetitive conduct and mergers involving the health care sector, from hospitals to pharmaceutical companies.” Health care was also the sole subject of an entire panel devoted to the current major wave of health care mergers. This article is the first in a series that will be devoted to these multiplying antitrust health care issues. This first installment serves to provide an overview of current antitrust issues in the health care industry and it will be followed by articles over the next several months focusing on specific cutting-edge antitrust health care issues and pivotal cases.
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