Lina Khan, FTC chair (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP Images)

Phar­ma in the crosshairs: How the FTC is ex­pand­ing its an­titrust pow­ers un­der its new chair

Less than a month since her Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion, the new, young and staunch­ly pro­gres­sive Fed­er­al Trade Com­mis­sion chair Lina Khan is ready to up the pres­sure on un­fair busi­ness prac­tices, in­clud­ing at the largest phar­ma com­pa­nies. To do that, Khan is rolling back re­stric­tions on an­titrust in­ves­ti­ga­tions and po­ten­tial­ly open­ing the flood gates on Big Phar­ma M&A.

On Thurs­day, Khan led a vote to ap­prove a se­ries of res­o­lu­tions that di­rect agency staff to ramp up its in­ves­ti­ga­tions, via sub­poe­nas or oth­er­wise, around sev­en spe­cif­ic en­force­ment pri­or­i­ties, in­clud­ing phar­ma com­pa­nies, PBMs, and hos­pi­tals. While the com­mis­sion has his­tor­i­cal­ly re­quired its an­titrust staff to ob­tain the full com­mis­sion’s ap­proval to be­gin such in­ves­ti­ga­tions, the FTC will now be able to open in­ves­ti­ga­tions or is­sue sub­poe­nas with on­ly one com­mis­sion­er’s ap­proval, and that in­cludes in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­to phar­ma com­pa­nies.

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