Ventilator Shortages Caused by Failed Antitrust Approach

March 31, 2020 Press Release

For Immediate Release: March 31, 2020

Press Contact: Robyn Shapiro,




Washington, D.C. – With the spread of coronavirus outpacing U.S. healthcare capacity, the American Economic Liberties Project today released the following statement calling on lawmakers to begin an investigation of all mergers associated with crisis-related medical essentials that were cleared by the antitrust agencies over the past fifteen years.

“As the New York Times’ reporting on ventilator shortages makes painfully clear, mergers often create long-lasting harm that extends far beyond higher prices for consumers. Bad mergers can kill people. In 2012, medical device giant Covidien acquired ventilator designer Newport Medical, which had invented a cheaper more efficient machine to be used in case of a pandemic. But because of lax enforcement, the merger was cleared without a second thought, and Covidien then shut down Newport’s ventilator production, leading to severe shortages we’re dealing with today,” said Economic Liberties Executive Director Sarah Miller.

“The clearance of this merger was a disaster,” added Miller. “More broadly, the record of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade commission on merger enforcement is killing Americans. It is time for Congress to stop tolerating the DOJ and FTC’s track record of recklessness, and to begin an investigation of all mergers relating to medical essentials such as active pharmaceutical ingredients, hospital supplies, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices.”

“While we work to end and recover from this pandemic, it is essential that we implement policies that will rebuild supply chains, protect critical industries from economic shock, and prevent dominant corporations from using this crisis to further enrich and empower themselves. That means challenging the regulatory status quo that allowed so many dangerous mergers to happen,” said Miller. “The DOJ and FTC must abandon their fundamentally flawed enforcement priorities and begin stopping mergers that threaten competitive market structures. That starts by figuring out what went wrong.”


Read the New York Times profile on Sarah Miller and Economic Liberties here.      

Learn more about Economic Liberties here.  



Economic Liberties works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. AELP believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.