On Wednesday the FTC announced plans to hold a workshop and roundtable on emerging healthcare competition and related consumer protection issues. The events, to be held in Washington, DC, are slated for this fall. The workshop and roundtable will focus on two key areas: 1. competition stemming from the implementation of a shorter regulatory path for follow-on drugs; and 2. competition among healthcare providers based on quality information.
Some of our readers likely remember the 2004 joint FTC/DOJ report entitled “Improving Healthcare: A Dose of Competition.” Since the release of the report, issues related to competition and consumer protection in the context of healthcare have increased exponentially. The FTC has recognized the increase in both the interest and relevance of this area, and is holding these events in response. The agency hopes to gather information on abbreviated regulatory pathways, as well as purchasers’ perception of the competitive effects of qualitative healthcare information. The increased use of qualitative measures in marketing and advertising could open the door to increased issues related to consumer protection. Information related to the “quality” of healthcare products and services is difficult to quantify and objectively measure, leaving the potential for consumer fraud and false advertising wide open.
The FTC is seeking public comment on a wide range of issues related to the workshop and roundtable. Readers can access the federal register notice here. Please note that comments are due by September 30. Interested parties are also free to submit comments up to 30 days after the events. Stay tuned for the dates of these events and further details.