Last week, Barry Nigro, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General (“DAAG”) of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”), delivered a keynote address at the 2018 Antitrust in Healthcare Conference, co-sponsored by the American Bar Association and the American Health Lawyers Association. In his remarks, the DAAG noted the following:

Competition in healthcare means being able to afford life-saving surgery, or critical medicines, or an infant’s first checkup. It’s important. That’s why few, if any, segments of our economy merit higher priority when it comes to antitrust enforcement, and healthcare has long been an enforcement priority for the Antitrust Division and our friends at the Federal Trade Commission.

In addition to describing the civil antitrust actions taken by the DOJ in health care in the recent past, the DAAG reiterated the importance of the DOJ’s investigations of potential criminal antitrust violations in the health care industry, including “market allocation agreements among healthcare providers and no-poach agreements restricting competition for employees.”

Next, the DAAG discussed the DOJ’s and the Federal Trade Commission’s roles in advocacy at the state level, particularly in circumstances involving legislation pertaining to licensing requirements for health care professionals. The DAAG ended his comments by affirming that “antitrust enforcement in healthcare will continue to be a high priority” for the DOJ.