Healthcare antitrust lawyers don't expect much change in healthcare antitrust enforcement policies from Richard Parker, 51, the newly named bureau of competition director at the Federal Trade Commission.
Parker replaces William Baer, 49, the bureau's longest serving director, who last month announced his resignation after more than four years in office (July 26, p. 4). Parker was Baer's top assistant.
Both Baer and Parker are known as aggressive litigators and boast extensive private practice experience.
However, the most important person in healthcare antitrust enforcement at the FTC isn't the director but the healthcare division head, said William Kopit, a healthcare antitrust lawyer with the Washington office of Epstein, Becker & Green.
The division head takes the lead in determining which transactions to investigate or challenge.
"And Richard Feinstein (the current division head) isn't leaving. The (FTC) commissioners aren't changing either," Kopit said. "So Baer's departure won't have much impact."
Under Baer's tenure the FTC won its first hospital antitrust case in years, involving two acute-care hospitals in Poplar Bluff, Mo. However, an appeals court overturned the lower court's decision in the case.