August 9, 2020

Volume X, Number 222

August 07, 2020

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August 06, 2020

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Antitrust Law Compliance During Public Health Emergencies

As organizations are working to respond to the 2019 novel coronavirus (known as “COVID-19”), the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued a reminder that emergency efforts do not negate the requirement to adhere to the antitrust laws, and that the DOJ stands ready to respond to market participants who may be using the public health emergency as an opportunity to violate those laws. The DOJ noted specifically that entities that “fix prices or rig bids for personal health protection equipment . . . could face criminal prosecution.” The DOJ also warned against organizations allocating among themselves consumers of public health products. It is reasonable to assume that, in this context, “public health products” will be interpreted broadly.

The DOJ’s reminder is consistent with the agency’s internal primer on price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation, which states that “consumers have the right to expect the benefits of free and open competition—the best goods and services at the lowest prices.” A public health emergency simply does not change that standard.

©2020 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 72


About this Author

John Steren, Epstein Becker Law Firm, Health Care Litigation Attorney

E. John Steren is a Member of the Firm in the Health Care & Life Sciences and Litigation & Business Disputes practices, in the Washington, DC, office of Epstein Becker Green. Mr. Steren devotes a significant portion of his practice to helping health care organizations manage the antitrust risks of joint ventures and other business arrangements. He also focuses his practice on other complex commercial and civil litigation matters.

Patricia M. Wagner, Epstein becker green, health care, life sciences

PATRICIA M. WAGNER is a Member of the Firm in the Health Care and Life Sciences and Litigation practices, in the firm's Washington, DC, office. In 2014, Ms. Wagner was selected to the Washington DC Super Lawyers list in the area of Health Care.

Ms. Wagner's experience includes the following:

Advising clients on a variety of matters related to federal and state antitrust issues 

Representing clients in antitrust matters in front of the Federal Trade Commission and the United States Department of Justice, and state antitrust authorities 

Advising clients on issues related HIPAA Privacy and security

Advising clients on issues related to state licensure and regulatory requirements