Monopolists be-aware!

I stumbled on this link from Matt Stoler’s excellent newsletter on Substack. (If you haven’t subscribed to it, please do!)

FTC Charges Surescripts with Illegal Monopolization of E-Prescription Markets | Federal Trade Commission

The FTC’s complaint against Surescripts, filed in federal court on April 17, 2019, is the latest example of the agency’s commitment to stopping anticompetitive tactics in the health care industry that harm consumers and raise the cost of care for Americans. In February, the FTC reached a a global settlement with the pharmaceutical manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd., barring the company from engaging in reverse-payment patent settlement agreements that block consumers’ access to lower-priced generic drugs. Last month, the Commission barred another pharmaceutical company, Impax Laboratories LLC, from entering into reverse-payment patent settlements after concluding that Impax used this tactic to block consumers’ access to a generic version of the extended-release opioid pain reliever Opana ER. And in a record court victory for the Commission last year, a federal court ordered another pharmaceutical company, AbbVie Inc., to pay $448 million to consumers who overpaid for testosterone replacement drug Androgel because of AbbVie’s illegal tactics to maintain its monopoly over the drug.

FTC is finally flexing its muscle. Here’s a heart breaking description from Matt’s newsletter on a person denied his analgesics:

Meanwhile, there was an angry man sitting on the floor with a cast on his leg. He had been waiting there for an indefinite period of time. The pharmacist told him to leave and come back later because he wasn’t sure when the system would come back. The guy was like “I physically can’t come back, this is pain medication for a surgery I had today.” And there was a tiny argument, but it was clear that everyone involved was powerless.

This shouldn’t have been the case in an idealised world. Nevertheless, I thought of linking this because Matt’s been influencing my ideas around monopolies and how they work. Remember, we have an effective duopoly in the radiation oncology delivery market – just the two companies who have carved out the market between them. I’ll write about them in forthcoming posts.

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