On Monday, October 26, 2015, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) Chairwoman, Edith Ramirez, requesting that the FTC investigate possible illegal collusion by saline solution manufacturers.
In their letter, the senators noted that there has been a shortage of saline solution in the United States since 2013 and that the three companies that provide all the saline solution for the United States, Baxter, Hospira, and B. Braun, have failed to end the shortage. The senators further claim that such activity may be the result of collusive behavior by the manufacturing companies to exploit the shortage of saline solution to increase their own profits and that this activity has resulted in higher costs to hospitals, patients, and the overall healthcare system. The letter also states that hospitals have reported that Baxter, Hospira, and B. Braun have each imposed greater price increases (200-300%) since the shortage began. The senators also state that the manufacturers on saline solution customers who do not also purchase additional non-saline products, effectively claiming that the manufacturers may be illegally tying the products.
Given the rising costs of healthcare, the FTC should ensure that anticompetitive conduct does not further increase those costs. Therefore, the senators urge the FTC to investigate the troubling allegations to determine whether the saline suppliers’ apparent anticompetitive conduct is harming consumers and running afoul of the antitrust laws.