Welcome to the Federal Trade Commission’s 2015 Annual Highlights. Every year we take this opportunity to reflect on the work we have undertaken to protect consumers and promote competition. I am particularly proud of all we accomplished in the last year to advance this important dual mission.
In these Highlights, we outline the FTC’s most significant achievements and initiatives for calendar year 2015. We continue to focus on protecting the interests of consumers in areas that have the greatest impact, from health care to the digital economy to basic consumer products and services. We have also sought to expand our understanding of emerging technologies and their impact on consumers. As the role that data plays in our economy continues to grow, our enforcement and policy work demonstrates the FTC’s commitment to ensuring that consumers’ personal information is handled responsibly and securely. We also examined new business models and disruptive innovation in connection with the sharing economy and the way cars are sold and the impact on consumers.
In addition, we continue to devote significant resources to stopping anticompetitive consolidation, with a key merger victory last year in the foodservice distribution industry. The FTC is currently challenging four mergers – one seeking to block Staples’ proposed acquisition of Office Depot and three opposing proposed hospital mergers in Huntington, West Virginia, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and the North Shore area of Chicago, Illinois.
The FTC has also been active in the first quarter of 2016, beyond these four pending merger actions. Earlier this year, we filed suit against DeVry University for deceiving students about the likelihood that they would find jobs after graduation in their field of study. Educational institutions owe prospective students the truth about their graduates’ success finding employment and the income they can earn. Last week, we brought an action seeking relief for consumers who were harmed by Volkswagen Group of America’s promotion of supposedly “clean diesel” VWs and Audis, which Volkswagen fitted with illegal “defeat devices” designed to mask high emissions. Additionally, in our latest effort to stop unlawful “pay-for-delay” drug settlements, we brought the agency’s first enforcement action challenging agreements not to market an authorized generic as a form of reverse payment.
Finally, my fellow Commissioners – Commissioners Maureen Ohlhausen and Terrell McSweeny, and Commissioner Julie Brill who has just stepped down – and I want to thank the FTC’s dedicated staff for their unwavering commitment to protecting the interests of American consumers and ensuring we have a competitive marketplace. I am confident that the agency’s impact and success will only continue to grow in the months and years to come.
Edith Ramirez, Chairwoman