WASHINGTON — Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and several other members sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Competition voicing concerns regarding vertical mergers, specifically in the health care space.

In the health care market, several vertical mergers have occurred in the last ten years. These mergers were approved under the guise of providing better care and savings to patients. However, these benefits have been minimal at best and companies have profited at the expense of patients and the government.

“Vertical mergers are intended to provide consumers with a faster and more cost-efficient way of getting goods and services by combining a few companies into one single supply chain. For the health care space, this means insurers teaming with pharmacies claiming they will reduce costs for patients. But, in reality, these mergers are causing more harm than good by: Limiting patient choices, jeopardizing care, hurting small-business pharmacies, driving up costs for taxpayers, and more. These mergers have substantially reduced competition and these companies are in control—not the market, not the consumer. The FTC and DOJ must do more to address these anticompetitive mergers. I am hopeful the FTC and DOJ will do more to strengthen and enforce their guidelines on vertical mergers in order to help American families,” said Collins.

“Vertical mergers in healthcare are crushing the independent pharmacies that many rural Americans rely on. The proposed FTC and DOJ guidelines do not do enough to protect consumers from the anticompetitive effects of vertical mergers. I am hopeful that the FTC and DOJ will strengthen and enforce these guidelines to protect patients and small businesses,” said Welch.

“Vertical mergers in health care have allowed a handful of massive companies to exercise enormous power over patients and the marketplace. In many cases, we believe these megacompanies are creating for themselves unfair advantages that are making it more difficult and more expensive for patients to access care, while also killing local businesses. Protecting consumers is exactly why antitrust protections exist, and we want the FTC and the DOJ to be more vigilant, more active, and more aggressive at enforcing them. We’re grateful to Rep. Collins, Rep. Welch, and their colleagues for pushing for stricter scrutiny of vertical mergers and on their effects on both consumers and providers,” said B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, MBA, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association

The letter is available here.