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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  May 26, 2023

Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.


JetBlue-American Partnership Struck Down by Federal Judge.  A federal judge halted a partnership between American Airlines and JetBlue Airways at airports in New York and Boston, writing in a ruling on Friday that the alliance would hurt competition and raise fares. The decision is a big victory for the Justice Department, which under President Biden has sought to enforce antitrust laws more aggressively, especially in industries like airlines and technology, where a few companies wield such dominance that it can be hard, if not impossible, for smaller businesses to challenge them. The judge ruled that the airlines’ partnership, known as the Northeast Alliance, must end.


FTC sues to block Amgen’s $27.8 billion deal for Horizon Therapeutics.  The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has filed a lawsuit to stop Amgen Inc’s $27.8 billion acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics Plc in a rare move to block a large pharmaceutical deal. The FTC said it opposed the deal because of concern that Amgen would leverage its big selling drugs to pressure insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers to give favorable terms for Horizon’s two key products – the fast-growing thyroid eye disease treatment Tepezza and gout drug Krystexxa.


Unions Accuse UPMC of Wielding Market Power Against Workers.  A coalition of labor groups filed an antitrust complaint with the Justice Department against UPMC, the giant Pittsburgh-based hospital employer, accusing the system of using its enormous clout to depress wages and harm workers. In its complaint, the group, which includes S.E.I.U. Healthcare Pennsylvania, claims UPMC workers are subject to a “wage penalty” because of the health system’s dominance in local markets. The complaint describes nurses who are given heavier workloads than nurses at other hospitals, creating concerns over patient safety, and catalogs what the coalition considers to be labor law violations that it says illustrate the powerlessness of employees to improve working conditions.


E.U. Approves Microsoft’s $69 Billion Deal for Activision.  Microsoft’s faltering $69 billion bid to buy the video game company Activision Blizzard received a glimmer of hope when European Union regulators approved what would be the largest consumer tech deal in two decades. E.U. officials said they would allow the deal after Microsoft, the maker of the Xbox console, made concessions to ensure that rival companies of new online gaming services would have continued access to titles developed by Activision, such as the hugely popular Call of Duty. Even so, the blockbuster acquisition, which has become a test of whether regulators around the world will approve a tech megamerger amid concerns about the industry’s power, still faces objections from American and British regulators.


Edited by Gary J. Malone