FTC sues Surescripts, claims it illegally monopolizes e-prescribing market

The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint April 17 in federal court against Surescripts, a health information network focused on e-prescriptions, alleging the company used illegal tactics to maintain monopolies over two e-prescribing markets.

Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton said in a statement emailed to Becker's Hospital Review that "[Surescripts] is very disappointed" by the lawsuit and the company has been cooperating with the FTC throughout its investigation.

In the lawsuit, the FTC claims Surescripts monopolized both routing and eligibility e-prescribing markets, according to a news release. By employing anticompetitive tactics, such as anticompetitive exclusivity agreements and threats, Surescripts intentionally tried to prevent e-prescription customers from using additional platforms, the FTC alleged. Using these methods, Surescripts was able to keep competitors from gaining share in routing and eligibility markets, which helped the company to maintain at least a 95 percent share in both e-prescribing markets, according to the complaint.  

"For the past decade, Surescripts has used a series of anticompetitive contracts throughout the e-prescribing industry to eliminate competition and keep out competitors," FTC Bureau of Competition Director Bruce Hoffman said in a news release. "Surescripts' illegal contracts denied customers and, ultimately, patients, the benefits of competition — including lower prices, increased output, thriving innovation, higher quality and more customer choice."

The FTC said it is seeking to undo and prevent Surescripts' anticompetitive methods, restore competition within the markets and provide monetary redress to consumers.

Mr. Skelton said that since 2009, Surescripts has reduced the cost of e-prescribing by 70 percent. "We are making an important change to our e-prescribing business agreements with pharmacies by removing the loyalty provisions in those contracts," He added. "This step addresses one of the FTC's chief concerns while reflecting the current dynamics of the healthcare industry and the state of [e-]prescribing today."

To access the FTC's complaint, click here.

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