Comments emphasize the need for the FTC to consider the varied effects of mergers on innovation.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a notice seeking public comments on areas of focus for the Multilateral Pharmaceutical Merger Task Force, which includes staff from the FTC, Canada’s Competition Bureau, the European Commission Directorate General for Competition, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, and Offices of State Attorneys General. The objective of the task force is to “ensure that FTC investigations include fresh approaches that fully analyze and address the varied competitive concerns that these mergers and acquisitions raise.”
In a submitted comment, John Asker of the University of California, Los Angeles, Margaret Kyle of MINES ParisTech, and Kostis Hatzitaskos, Avigail Kifer, and Sarah Abraham of Cornerstone Research emphasize the need to tread carefully in designing antitrust policy for the pharmaceutical industry. The authors discuss several key points of consideration for the task force:
- Mergers and acquisitions are key for bringing innovative pharmaceutical products to market.
- Assessing the benefits of an intervention is challenging given the complexities of pharmaceutical markets.
- Empirical work should be done to inform policy choices.
Given the importance of ensuring that antitrust regulations continue to encourage innovation, the consequences of missteps, and the fact that the mechanisms driving innovation have been difficult to generalize, the authors recommend proceeding cautiously and with a focus on incremental improvements in policy.