In testimony today before a U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee, the Federal Trade Commission detailed its work to promote competition and benefit consumers, including preventing anticompetitive mergers, restricting "pay-for-delay" pharmaceutical agreements that increase prescription drug costs, stopping anticompetitive hospital mergers, and promoting competition in the high-technology and energy markets.
Testifying on behalf of the Commission before the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz told the Subcommittee that competitive markets are the foundation of the U.S. economy, and effective antitrust enforcement is essential for those markets to function well.
"Vigorous competition promotes economic growth by keeping prices down, expanding output and the variety of choices available to consumers, and promoting innovation," Leibowitz said. "The FTC has jurisdiction over a wide swath of the economy, so we focus on sectors where our actions will do the greatest good for the greatest number of consumers, including energy, technology, and, of course, health care."
The FTC's competition work falls into three broad categories: merger review, investigations of anticompetitive conduct, and competition policy analysis. According to the testimony, one of the FTC's top competition priorities remains ending anticompetitive pay-for-delay agreements between brand-named drug companies and their generic competitors. These anticompetitive agreements keep low-cost generic drugs off the market and impose substantial costs on consumers, businesses, taxpayers, and government.
The testimony also outlines the FTC's recent work to stop anticompetitive health care mergers. In particular, the FTC has redoubled its efforts to prevent anticompetitive hospital mergers, and the Commission currently has three legal challenges to proposed hospital mergers pending in administrative litigation.
The testimony also addresses antitrust oversight in technology industries, including how competition law can keep up with a rapidly evolving marketplace. It concludes by describing the FTC's work in monitoring energy markets and outlining the Commission's international competition efforts, as well as consumer protection highlights such as the agency's continued focus on protecting financially distressed consumers and ensuring privacy protections.
The Commission vote approving the testimony and its inclusion in the formal record was 4-0.
The FTC's Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action. To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 601 New Jersey Ave., Room 7117, Washington, DC 20580. To learn more about the Bureau of Competition, read Competition Counts. Like the FTC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter..