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FTC Sues 1-800 Contacts, Charging that It Harms Competition in Online Search Advertising Auctions and Restricts Truthful Advertising to Consumers
Invibio agreed to settle charges that it used long-term supply contracts to exclude rivals and maintain its monopoly in implant-grade polyetheretherketone, known as PEEK, which is sold to medical device makers. The FTC’s complaint alleges that two other companies,Solvay Specialty Polymers LLC and Evonik Corporation, later entered the implant-grade PEEK market, but Invibio’s anticompetitive tactics impeded them from effectively competing for customers. Through these exclusive contracting practices, the complaint alleges that Invibio has been able to maintain high prices for PEEK, despite entry from Solvay and Evonik; to prevent its customers from using more than one source of supply, despite their business preference to do so; and to impede Solvay and Evonik from developing into fully effective competitors. Under the consent order, Invibio, Inc. and Invibio Limited, along with their corporate parent, Victrex plc, are generally prohibited from entering into exclusive supply contracts and from preventing current customers from using an alternate source of PEEK in new products. In addition, the companies must allow current customers meeting certain conditions to modify existing contracts to eliminate the requirement that the customer purchase PEEK for existing products exclusively from Invibio.
Officials from U.S. and Japan Participate in 35th Bilateral Meeting in Washington to Discuss Antitrust Enforcement
The FTC filed a complaint in federal district court alleging that Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. and several other drug companies violated antitrust laws by using pay-for-delay settlements to block consumers’ access to lower-cost generic versions of Opana ER and Lidoderm with an agreement not to market an authorized generic – often called a “no-AG commitment” – as a form of reverse payment. The complaint, filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleges that Endo paid the first generic companies that filed for FDA approval – Impax Laboratories, Inc. and Watson Laboratories, Inc. – to eliminate the risk of competition for Opana ER and Lidoderm, in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. Opana ER is an extendedrelease opioid used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Lidoderm is a topical patch used to relieve pain associated with post-herpetic neuralgia, a complication of shingles. The FTC is seeking a court judgment declaring that the defendants’ conduct violates the antitrust laws, ordering the companies to disgorge their ill-gotten gains, and permanently barring them from engaging in similar anticompetitive behavior in the future. Teikoko Pharma USA and Teikoku Seiyaku Co., Ltd. agreed to a stipulated order resolving FTC charges.
In November 2016, the FTC voluntarily dismissed the complaint in this action. On January 23, 2017, the FTC refiled charges related to the Lidoderm agreements in federal court in California (Federal Trade Commission vs. Allergan plc; Watson Laboratories, Inc., et al) and refiled charges related to the Opana ER agreement in a Part 3 administrative proceeding. (In re Impax Laboratories, Inc.)
Drug Testing Compliance Group, LLC, agreed to settle charges that it illegally invited one of its competitors to enter into a customer allocation agreement in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. The proposed settlement prohibits DTC Group from communicating with competitors about rates or prices (although it does not bar public posting of rates). The settlement also prohibits the company from soliciting, entering into, or maintaining an agreement with any competitor to divide markets, allocate customers, or fix prices; and from urging any competitor to raise, fix, or maintain prices, or to limit or reduce service.
Step N Grip, LLC, which sells products online to keep rugs from curling at the edges, settled charges that it invited its closest competitor to fix and raise prices for their competing rug devices, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. Under the settlement agreement, Step N Grip is required to stop communicating with its competitors about prices. It is also barred from entering into, participating in, inviting, or soliciting an agreement with any competitor to divide markets, to allocate customers, or to fix prices; and from urging any competitor to raise, fix, or maintain its price or rate levels or limit or reduce service. The order is in effect for 20 years.
Pharmaceutical companies Concordia Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Par Pharmaceutical, Inc. settled FTC charges that they entered into an unlawful agreement not to compete in the sale of generic versions of Kapvay, a prescription drug used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. As part of the settlement, the companies agreed not to enforce the anticompetitive provisions of their agreement. Until May 15, 2015, Concordia and Par were the only two firms permitted by the FDA to market generic Kapvay. Rather than competing against one another, Concordia agreed not to sell an authorized generic version of Kapvay in exchange for a share of Par’s revenues. Under the terms of the settlements, Concordia is prohibited from enforcing the anticompetitive provisions of its agreement with Par, including the profit-sharing provisions, and Par is prohibited from enforcing provisions that bar Concordia from agreeing not to sell an authorized generic version of Kapvay. Concordia began selling generic Kapvay after learning of the FTC’s investigation.
The National Association of Animal Breeders (NAAB) agreed to remove provisions in its Code of Ethics that the FTC charged limit competition among its members. The consent order settling the FTC’s allegations requires NAAB to end certain advertising restrictions, remove references to the restrictions from its website and official documents, publish and distribute an announcement regarding the consent agreement and the resulting changes to the Code of Ethics, and implement an antitrust compliance program.
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