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The Federal Trade Commission today asked a federal district court to block a merger of the nation’s two largest movable medical equipment rental firms charging that the merger violates federal antitrust laws. MEDIQ Incorporated and Universal Hospital Services (UHS) rent durable, movable medical equipment such as respiratory, infusion and monitoring devices, primarily to hospitals. The FTC alleges that MEDIQ’s $100 million acquisition of UHS may substantially lessen competition and tend to create a monopoly in the market for the rental of durable, movable medical equipment to hospitals on an as-needed basis.

The FTC is seeking a temporary restraining order to block the transaction. If successful, the Commission also will seek to extend the temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction, which would ensure that the two firms remain separate pending the outcome of an administrative trial on the merits of the case. If the court grants the FTC’s initial motion for a temporary restraining order, the Commission will have 20 days in which to issue an administrative complaint that will start the administrative trial process.

On July 29, the FTC voted to file the complaint alleging that the merger would result in higher rental prices for durable, movable medical equipment.

MEDIQ, based in Pennsauken, New Jersey, is the largest durable, movable medical equipment rental firm in the country, with 85 rental facilities nationwide and inventory of more than 130,000 pieces of equipment. Bloomington, Minnesota-based UHS has 46 rental facilities and more than 40,000 pieces of equipment.

The Commission vote to file the complaint was 5-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, today.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.

Copies of the complaint are available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326- 2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web site at:

(FTC File No. 971 0066)

(Civil Action No. 1:97 CV01916)

Contact Information

Media Contact:
Claudia Bourne Farrell,
Office of Public Affairs
Staff Contact:
George S.Cary,
Bureau of Competition