Compliance Today (June 2020)
The coronavirus epidemic is forcing organizations, especially those in the healthcare field, to collaborate in ways that could violate US antitrust regulations. To head off any violations before they can happen, and to clarify existing and ongoing regulations, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Competition of the Federal Trade Commission issued a joint statement on the matter.
The two agencies promised to expedite review processes in light of the current crisis. They also listed several pro-competitive collaborations that are allowed under current antitrust regulations, as well as several sites and contacts for organizations seeking additional guidance for specific collaborations that may infringe on antitrust regulations.
The Department of Justice also instituted several civil process changes, including:
“For mergers currently pending or that may be proposed, the Antitrust Division is requesting from merging parties an additional 30 days to timing agreements to complete its review of transactions after the parties have complied with document requests. If circumstances require, the Division may revisit its timing agreements with merging parties in light of further developments.
“The Antitrust Division will allow electronic filing of Hart-Scott-Rodino submissions.
“The Antitrust Division will conduct all meetings by phone or video conference (where possible), absent extenuating circumstances.
“All scheduled depositions temporarily will be postponed and will be rescheduled using secure videoconferencing capabilities.”
1 U.S. Department of Justice, “Joint Antitrust Statement Regarding COVID-19,” joint statement, last updated March 24, 2020, https://bit.ly/2UvXftE.
2 U.S. Department of Justice, “Justice Department Announces Antitrust Civil Process Changes for Pendency of COVID-19 Event,” news release, March 17, 2020, https://bit.ly/3axbKDn.