Mergers on the Examining Table: The FTC Ratchets Up Antitrust Enforcement in the Healthcare Sector

North Carolina Bar Assoc. Antitrust News

Authored Article


If you have picked up a newspaper or turned on the television recently, you prob-ably noticed that the healthcare industry is garnering special attention. “Reform” is the watchword of the day, with President Obama’s plan to overhaul the healthcare system representing one of the most con-troversial and ambitious agenda items of his young presidency. While it is difficult to predict precisely when reform will occur or what shape it will ultimately take, it is reasonably clear that the relentless debate over “ObamaCare” will not subside any-time soon.

Against this political backdrop, it is per-haps not surprising that the antitrust enforcement agencies – the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) in particular – have been very active in the healthcare sector. In the past six months, there have been at least three significant healthcare-related mergers and acquisitions in which the par-ties – faced with the prospects of a pro-tracted battle with the FTC – opted to walk away from their respective transac-tions.

In some respects, these enforcement actions are consistent with the heightened scrutiny the agencies applied to healthcare transactions in the waning days of the Bush administration. See, e.g., In the Matter of Inova Health System and Prince William Health System, Inc., FTC Docket No. 9339. Nevertheless, the emphasis that President Obama has placed on healthcare reform suggests that the federal antitrust agencies will continue to be enforcement-heavy in this arena. In that vein, the fol-lowing is a brief synopsis of three recent FTC enforcement actions in the healthcare sector: Carilion Clinic, Thoratec Corporation, and CSL Limited. 

The complete article first appeared on Antitrust News in December of 2009.