Even though many industries have been devastated by COVID-19, the Antitrust Division in the Department of Justice has publicly warned all companies that they still are ‘being watched’ by government trust-busters. The DOJ Press Release singles out manufacturers and distributors of health products such as face masks, respirators, and diagnostics.
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Justice Department Cautions Business Community Against Violating Antitrust Laws in the Manufacturing, Distribution, and Sale of Public Health Products
The Department of Justice today announced its intention to hold accountable anyone who violates the antitrust laws of the United States in connection with the manufacturing, distribution, or sale of public health products such as face masks, respirators, and diagnostics. The department’s announcement is part of a broader administration effort to ensure that federal, state, and local health authorities, the private healthcare sector, and the public at large are in the strongest possible position to respond to the outbreak of the respiratory disease named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“The Department of Justice stands ready to make sure that bad actors do not take advantage of emergency response efforts, healthcare providers, or the American people during this crucial time,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “I am committed to ensuring that the department’s resources are available to combat any wrongdoing and protect the public.”
Individuals or companies that fix prices or rig bids for personal health protection equipment such as sterile gloves and face masks could face criminal prosecution. Competitors who agree to allocate among themselves consumers of public health products could also be prosecuted. The department’s recently announced Procurement Collusion Strike Force will also be on high alert for collusive practices in the sale of such products to federal, state, and local agencies.
Anyone with information on price fixing, bid-rigging, market allocation schemes, or other anticompetitive conduct should call the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258, or visit http://www.justice.gov/atr/report-violations.