The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Martin Shkreli Faces New Accusations Over High-Priced Drug. Martin Shkreli, a former pharmaceutical executive serving a seven-year prison sentence for defrauding investors, was accused on Monday of trying to maintain a monopoly over the lifesaving drug Daraprim through anticompetitive tactics. The Federal Trade Commission and the office of the New York attorney general, Letitia James, jointly sued Vyera Pharmaceuticals and the company’s owners, Mr. Shkreli and Kevin Mulleady, in a federal court in Manhattan. They say Vyera and its leaders had an “elaborate and anticompetitive scheme” that blocked generics from entering the market after the company jacked up prices of Daraprim. The drug is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a rare, potentially fatal parasitic infection.
NBCUniversal fined $16 million for illegal sales curb in EU. NBCUniversal was fined 14.3 million euros ($15.86 million) by the European Union on Thursday for illegally restricting sales of merchandise linked to films such as “Minions,” as the bloc cracks down on practices blocking cross-border online trade. The European Commission opened an investigation into the Comcast subsidiary, and several other companies, on related issues in 2017 following an inquiry into the e-commerce and cross-border practices of thousands of companies in Europe. The EU wants to promote cross-border online trade to boost economic growth and catch up with the United States and Asia in this fast-growing business area.
Talk of Milk Industry Merger Draws Justice Dept. Scrutiny. When the struggling milk giant Dean Foods filed for bankruptcy protection in November, it also announced a possible path forward — a takeover by Dairy Farmers of America, a marketing cooperative. But the news that Dean Foods was in “advanced discussions” with the co-op did little to alleviate the concerns of dairy farmers. Many argued that a merger would reduce competition and suppress the price of raw milk, especially in regions where industry consolidation has made it difficult for farmers to stay in business. Now, federal investigators are examining those concerns.
Judge dismisses Wall Street ‘fear gauge’ lawsuit against Cboe. A federal judge dismissed an antitrust lawsuit by investors who accused the parent of the Chicago Board Options Exchange of letting anonymous traders rig the “fear gauge,” Wall Street’s main gauge of future stock market volatility, at their expense. U.S. District Judge Manish Shah in Chicago found no proof that Cboe Global Markets Inc. intended to defraud investors by letting the “John Doe” traders manipulate options and futures tied to the fear gauge, known as the VIX, to generate higher transaction fees. In a 48-page decision, Shah said he found no plausible allegations that Cboe knew who the John Does were or worked with them to rig the VIX, as Cboe Volatility Index is known, or that Cboe’s failure to enforce its rules caused losses for investors not involved in any manipulation.