ACCC concerned with Ramsay’s proposed takeover of Wollongong Day Surgery

The ACCC has issued a Statement of Issues in response to the proposed acquisition of Wollongong Day Surgery (“WDS”) by Health Care Corporation Ltd, a subsidiary of Ramsay Health Care Ltd (“Ramsay”).

Specifically, the ACCC is concerned that Ramsay’s acquisition of its closest competitor is likely to substantially lessen competition in the supply of day surgery services to private health funds and the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Ramsay’s increased market share would enable it to demand higher rates from health funds for the supply of day surgery services, resulting in increased prices for patients and a reduction in Ramsay’s incentive to invest in and improve the quality of its day surgery services, according to ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims.

The ACCC also formed the preliminary view that Shellharbour Private Hospital, currently the nearest competitor to WDS, would not provide sufficient constraint to replace the competition that would be lost as a result of the takeover.

The ACCC will announce its final decision on 27 August 2015.

To view the ACCC media release, click here.

To access the Statement of Issues, click here

Cases

High Court reserves its decision on “breast cancer gene” patent

On 16 June 2015, the High Court heard an appeal from Queensland cancer survivor, Yvonne D’Arcy, against US company, Myriad Genetics, challenging the company’s patent to a hereditary gene associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Myriad holds the patent over the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes which, if present, dramatically increase a woman's chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

D’Arcy is challenging three claims associated with the patent, arguing the patent is the subject of naturally occurring nucleic acids which have been merely isolated by Myriad, not “manufactured”, as required by the Patents Act 1990 (Cth).

The High Court challenge is aimed at removing restrictions on wide-ranging breast and ovarian cancer diagnostic and treatment research caused by Myriad’s patent.

The Federal Court and Full Court of the Federal Court previously found in Myriad’s favour.

The High Court has reserved its decision.

News

Industry rallies against proposed budget cuts to health services

A number of peak organisations from the health and community sectors are calling on the Australian Government to abandon plans to cut nearly $800 million in funding over the next four financial years.

The initiative follows the revelation in the latest round of Senate Estimates that $596.2 million is to be cut from the Health Flexible Funds.  This is on top of cuts totalling $197.1 million announced in last year’s Budget. 

The foreshadowed cuts are likely to reduce the capacity of not-for-profit health services as well as the new Primary Health Networks to deliver services and provide advice and support for reform in health. 

Legislation

Health Practitioner Regulation (Adoption of National Law) Amendment (Unqualified Surgeons) Bill 2015 (NSW) 

The draft Bill was released for comment and consultation on 9 June 2015 and proposes to amend the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, in its application in New South Wales, to prohibit individuals from using the title “Surgeon” and any title that includes the words “Surgeon” or “Surgery”, unless they are registered under the National Law in one of the nine surgical specialities.  Under the draft Bill, Dentists may continue using the title “Dental Surgeon”, which is accepted practice in the dental profession. 

The draft Bill seeks to close the loophole currently allowing General Practitioners and other non-surgical specialists to use the title “Surgeon”; for example, “Cosmetic Surgeon”.

The draft Bill will consider expert advice from professional medical associations prior to being introduced into Parliament.

To view the draft Bill, click here