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House Judiciary Subcommittee holds hearing on oversight of Antitrust Enforcement Agencies

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 01:00
The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet held a hearing on Oversight of the Antitrust Enforcement Agencies. Witnesses included Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Sharis Pozen, acting assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice Antitrust Division.

Leibowitz detailed the FTC’s work to promote competition and benefit consumers, by preventing anticompetitive mergers, restricting “pay-for-delay” pharmaceutical agreements that increase prescription drug costs, stopping anti- competitive hospital mergers and promoting competition in the high-technology and energy markets.

Leibowitz also told the subcommittee that competitive markets are the foundation of the U.S. economy, and effective antitrust enforcement is essential for those markets to function well.

“Vigorous competition promotes economic growth by keeping prices down, expanding output and the variety of choices available to consumers, and promoting innovation ...The FTC has jurisdiction over a wide swath of the economy, so we focus on sectors where our actions will do the greatest good for the greatest number of consumers, including energy, technology and, of course, health care.

He said, “Health care costs have risen to nearly 18 percent of GDP and will continue to increase, so it is more important than ever that the commission be vigilant and take action to preserve and promote competition in health care markets” Leibowitz continued, “The cost of health care is a real problem for all Americans, and the commission seeks to address this national problem by using all the tools Congress gave to us, and by devoting significant resources so that competition will enable market participants to deliver on the promises of cost-containment and continued excellence and innovation.”

Pozen discussed many instances of investigation the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice has held recently to inspect and properly act on certain mergers. One of the many priorities Pozen discussed was health care. She said, “This past year has been an active one for our advocacy program.” In the health-care arena, the division worked closely with the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other federal agencies to ensure that sound competition principles will help guide reform, encouraging innovation in health care delivery systems while preserving competitive markets.”

 

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