The staff of the Bureau of Competition has advised Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Inc. that the group's purchase of pharmaceuticals to be dispensed to patients treated by Harvard Vanguard physicians and to Harvard Vanguard employees is covered by the Non-Profit Institutions Act. That statute exempts from the Robinson-Patman Act "purchases of their supplies for their own use by schools, colleges, universities, public libraries, churches, hospitals, and charitable institutions not operated for profit."
Harvard Vanguard is a Massachusetts non-profit, multi-specialty medical clinic that provides services to the patients enrolled in the Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan and other insurance programs. Harvard Pilgrim owns the clinics where Harvard Vanguard doctors practice, and operates clinic pharmacies which currently dispense pharmaceuticals only to enrollees of Harvard Pilgrim and affiliated HMOs. Harvard Pilgrim now intends to sell the land on which the clinics are located and transfer the clinic licenses and responsibility for operation of the clinic pharmacies to Harvard Vanguard.
Harvard Vanguard asked for an opinion on whether it can purchase pharmaceuticals from manufacturers pursuant to the Non-Profit Institutions Act and dispense them, through the clinic pharmacies, to Harvard Vanguard employees and to patients who are under the care of a clinic physician. The staff opinion letter, signed by Jeffrey Brennan, Assistant Director of the Health Care Services and Products Division of the Bureau of Competition, concluded that Harvard Vanguard was a nonprofit charitable institution entitled to the protection of the Act, and that pharmaceuticals used in the ways described in the request letter would be purchased for Harvard Vanguard's "own use" within the meaning of the statute.
NOTE: This letter sets out the views of the staff of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, as authorized by the Commission's Rules of Practice. It has not been reviewed or approved by the Commission. As the Commission's Rules explain, the staff's advice is rendered "without prejudice to the right of the Commission later to rescind the advice and, where appropriate, to commence an enforcement proceeding." (Staff contact is Jeffrey W. Brennan, 202-326-3688 or Judy Moreland, 202-326-2776)
Application for approval of proposed divestiture:
The Commission has received an application from Chevron Corporation (Chevron) and Texaco Inc. (Texaco) regarding the FTC's decision and order contained in the consent agreement accepted on September 7, 2001 that conditionally allowed the merger of the two companies. Under the terms of the order, which is available on the FTC's Web site, Chevron and Texaco (through a trustee) are required to divest Texaco's interests in Equilon Enterprises LLC and Motiva Enterprises LLC. Through this application, the trustee has requested approval to sell these interests to Shell Oil Company and Saudi Refining, Inc.
The Commission is accepting public comments on the application until January 14, 2002, after which it will vote on whether to approve it. Comments should be sent to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. (FTC File No. 011-0011; Docket No C-4023; staff contact is Daniel P. Ducore, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2526; see press release dated September 7, 2001.)
Commission approval of final consent order:
Following a public comment period, the Commission has approved a final consent order in the matter concerning Airgas, Inc. The vote to approve the final order was 5-0. (FTC File No. 001-0040; staff contact is Christina R. Perez, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2682; see press release dated October 26, 2001.)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.