Carl Hittinger

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FTC Still Ramping Up Antitrust Review of Health Care Mergers

Last month, we reported on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) steady filing of injunctions to block what are effectively local mergers of small health care providers. In 2007, the FTC filed suit in Saint Alphonsus Medical Center v. St. Luke’s Health System, its first successful challenge to a hospital merger in recent history. Since then, … Continue Reading

FTC Takes Action to Block Hospital Mergers

In the 1990s, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement actions to block mergers between health care providers were a rare phenomenon successfully obtained. In many instances, state Attorneys General filled the role of watchdog, especially since hospital mergers were relatively small and implicated local markets. Many, like the Pennsylvania Attorney General, were unable to convince the … Continue Reading

Antitrust, Appointments and Presidential Front-Runners: Part 1

Substantial and substantive issues of national importance are often ­obscured by the usual myopic and frenzied focus on political talking points, sensational sound bites and collateral name-calling. This is perhaps better exemplified in presidential elections than contests for other political offices. The current race to the presidency is plainly setting a new high (or low) … Continue Reading

Scalia’s Antitrust Legacy: Part 2, The Dissenting Opinions

In March, we wrote about Justice Antonin Scalia’s three majority opinions in substantive antitrust cases. Notably, Scalia also authored three dissenting opinions in substantive antitrust cases, in rapid-fire succession in 1991, ’92 and ’93. In the majority opinions, Scalia seized upon alternative, innocuous explanations for alleged anticompetitive conduct, even when an anticompetitive motive was equally … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Nominee Garland: An Assessment of Antitrust Expertise

Last month, our antitrust column was devoted to the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s antitrust legacy on the U.S. Supreme Court, focusing on his three antitrust opinions for the majority. At that time, we promised to continue that analysis, focusing this month on Scalia’s many antitrust dissents. However, history intervened and President Obama nominated Chief Judge … Continue Reading

Justice Scalia’s Antitrust Legacy: Part 1, The Majority Opinions

Justice Antonin Scalia once observed that “the American people are neither sheep nor fools,” in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, 540 U.S. 93 (2003). During his 30 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, he wrote 104 majority opinions but only three of those addressed substantive antitrust issues. This article addresses those three seminal antitrust opinions. Next … Continue Reading

FTC Brushes Aside AG, Regulators to Attack Local Hospital Merger

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continued its relentless focus on combinations in the healthcare industry last month when it filed an administrative complaint challenging a merger of two West Virginia hospitals, In the Matter of Cabell Huntington Hospital (FTC Docket No. 9366). Given the FTC’s recent successes in thwarting other healthcare mergers it saw as … Continue Reading

FTC Weighs in on Upcoming Third Circuit ‘Product-Hopping’ Appeal

“Product-hopping” refers to a practice employed by some brand-name pharmaceutical companies in which the company attempts to shift users from an older prescription drug that is going off-patent and will soon face generic competition to a newly introduced similar product from that company. Often, the new product will have a significant term of patent protection … Continue Reading

FTC Addresses Sharing Economy Following June Workshop

Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez recently made statements regarding regulation of the developing “sharing economy” exemplified by on-demand apps and websites such as Uber and Airbnb that connect sellers of a service with buyers nearly instantaneously and without traditional middlemen. Last week, in a speech at Fordham University Law School, Chairwoman Ramirez recognized that, … Continue Reading

Specific Guidance to Businesses Still Lacking in FTC Principles

In 1914, Congress passed the FTC Act, creating the Federal Trade Commission. Section 5 of the FTC Act declared “unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce” to be unlawful and gave the FTC enforcement power over such “unfair methods.” Over 100 years later, that key language in Section 5 underlying the agency’s competition-related powers … Continue Reading

FTC Finally Offers ‘Principles’ Governing Section 5 Powers, but Specific Guidance to Businesses Still Lacking

In 1914, Congress passed the FTC Act, creating the Federal Trade Commission. Section 5 of the FTC Act declared “unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce” to be unlawful and gave the FTC enforcement power over such “unfair methods.” More than 100 years later, that key language in Section 5 underlying the agency’s competition-related … Continue Reading

Ruling on Economic Favoritism Puts ‘NC Dental’ Back in Spotlight

In a recent opinion, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that an economic regulation passed by a state agency solely to protect one group from competition would not violate the constitutional guarantees of due process or equal protection. The court noted that such action might still violate … Continue Reading

Patent Defeats Antitrust in Latest Test at Supreme Court

In Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, 576 U.S. ____ (2015), the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether to overturn Brulotte v. Thys, 379 U.S. 29 (1964), its 1964 decision holding that it was per se unlawful for a patent owner to charge royalties for use of a patented invention after the licensed patent has expired. In a … Continue Reading

FTC Failure to Adopt Section 5 Guidelines Still Hot-Button Issue

Section 5 of the FTC Act gives the Federal Trade Commission the authority to take action against “unfair methods of competition.” The act was enacted over 100 years ago, and its legislative history indicates that it was left to the FTC to provide specific content to this broad and general language. However, there is still … Continue Reading

‘Actavis’ Still Raising More Questions Than It Answers

Nearly two years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Federal Trade Commission v. Actavis, 133 S. Ct. 2223 (2013), “reverse payment” settlements in patent litigation between brand-name drug manufacturers and potential generic entrants remain a hot topic in the antitrust world. At the American Bar Association’s Antitrust Law Spring Meeting, held in Washington, D.C., … Continue Reading

Symposium Advances Debate Over FTC’s Section 5 Enforcement Powers

What is an “unfair method of competition” for purposes of the Federal Trade Commission’s enforcement powers? For more than 100 years, lawyers, economists and other experts—as well as courts—have debated that question, trying to determine exactly what conduct Congress meant to prohibit, beyond conduct already condemned by the antitrust laws, when it enacted Section 5 … Continue Reading

FTC’s Appellate Win Reflects Focus on Health Care Consolidation

In an important victory for the Federal Trade Commission in the appellate courts, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently affirmed last year’s decision from the District of Idaho in Saint Alphonsus Medical Center v. St. Luke’s Health System, No. 14-35173, in which the FTC successfully sued to undo a 2012 merger … Continue Reading

‘Product-Hopping’ Can Be Snagged Under the Antitrust Laws

The Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act, more commonly known as the Hatch-Waxman Act, together with the patent laws, attempt to advance the competing goals of preserving pharmaceutical companies’ incentives to make the staggering investments necessary to bring new, improved drugs to market, as well as fostering lower prices through competition from generic … Continue Reading

FTC Aggressively Pressing ‘Antitrust Trumps IP’ Theme

The Federal Trade Commission has recently brought its considerable institutional weight to bear in two developing areas at the intersection of unfair competition and intellectual property law. Continuing its crusade against “reverse-payment” patent infringement settlements in the pharmaceuticals sector, the FTC is promoting—especially in the Third Circuit—a maximalist interpretation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 … Continue Reading

Clear Expectations: DOJ Outlines Tenets of an Effective Antitrust Compliance Program

There has never been a greater emphasis on policing anticompetitive behavior worldwide. Dozens of countries have instituted effective and aggressive cartel enforcement programs following a trend of increased global enforcement, and criminal antitrust fines in the United States alone exceeded $1 billion in both 2013 and 2012. [1] Prison sentences up to 10 years have also been … Continue Reading

A History of American Monopolists: Remembering One’s Non-Monopoly Roots

As the story goes, Ford Motor Co. almost never got off the ground because of a monopolist.  In 1903, the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers (ALAM) tried to stop Henry Ford from building his first gasoline-powered four-stroke automobile.  The ALAM was composed of 11 car manufacturers, including, at the time, Cadillac, Winton and Packard.  Its … Continue Reading

A History of American Monopolists: Lessons Not Easily Learned

As the story goes, in 1902, President Teddy Roosevelt, wanting to make his mark on the presidency as a real deal “trust buster,” took aim at Wall Street by going after financial titan J.P. Morgan. Working with his then-attorney general, Pennsylvanian Philander Knox, Roosevelt decided to file an antitrust suit against the Northern Securities Co., … Continue Reading
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