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Adam Klasfeld+ Your Authors @KlasfeldReports Reporter, @CourthouseNews: NYC+Int’l. RTs=What's it to ya? adam[at]adamklasfeld[dot]com PGP Fingerprint: F427 EE3B 6F05 E5D5 785B 775B 2C74 683C 219D 91DC Apr. 20, 2020 2 min read + Your Authors

BREAKING: The Justice Department clears antitrust hurdles for AmerisourceBergen Corporation, a major drug wholesaler, to distribute the Trump-touted anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19. cc: @CourthouseNews

From the DOJ's letter:  https://www.justice.gov/atr/page/file/1269911/download 

AmerisourceBergen is one of the companies sued by West Virginia in 2017 for exacerbating the opioid crisis.

Two others were McKesson and Cardinal Health.

The DOJ cleared antitrust hurdles for them earlier this month.

 https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1266541/download 

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/lawsuits-filed-against-drug-distributors-in-west-virginia/2017/03/09/f9e3165e-0501-11e7-b1e9-a05d3c21f7cf_story.html 

Note: There is no FDA-approved treatment for Covid-19.

The French paper that Trump cited in touting the drug's promise was repudiated by its publisher.

Another French study found it didn't help and had to be discontinued because of heart toxicities.  https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/15/health/new-french-study-hydroxychloroquine/index.html 

The $750,000 contract to develop a treatment protocol for the anti-malaria drug ends tomorrow (April 21).

Some two decades ago, the contractor behind this work oversaw a defrauded clinical trial for an antibiotic that sparked a rare criminal prosecution.  https://www.courthousenews.com/chloroquine-researcher-oversaw-trials-for-drug-that-sparked-rare-prosecution/ 

Seeking antitrust experts for a story on this breaking news.

Is that your expertise?

DMs open. Email in bio, and message me for secure contact info.

Story on the antitrust clearance for this drug-wholesale giant supplying the hydroxychloroquine coming up soon for @CourthouseNews.

Meanwhile, a few more facts to contextualize this breaking news.

The DOJ has issued business review letters for six medical companies so far for Covid-19 supplies.

Three--Amerisource, McKesson, & Cardinal Health--controlled 85% of the wholesale U.S. drug market last year, per this WaPo report on alleged price-fixing.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/prescription-drug-wholesalers-reaped-windfall-from-alleged-price-fixing/2019/01/31/b8ed6130-230f-11e9-81fd-b7b05d5bed90_story.html 

Those same three companies now have enforcement hurdles cleared by assistant AG Makan Delrahim, the DOJ's top antitrust official who unsuccessfully tried to block AT&T's merger with TimeWarner.

Critics saw it as the Trump admin's attempt to punish subsidiary CNN.

In the ensuing press coverage, NYT reported that the deal put "Trump's top antitrust cop" Delrahim at the center of a political storm.

They reported in the article on Delrahim's gift upon entering DOJ: a hat punning “Makan Antitrust Great Again.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/technology/justice-department-antitrust.html 

In an interview, @DrDenaGrayson told me the government sometimes stockpiles drugs during emergency situations before their efficacy against a disease can be proven, but the singular focus on hydroxychloroquine seems political.

Hydroxychloroquine is the only drug listed by name in the DOJ's letter to AmerisourceBergen.

"The Department understands that other, additional medicines could eventually be added to this distribution initiative," a footnote of the letter reads.  https://www.justice.gov/atr/page/file/1269911/download 

AmerisourceBergen did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment, and I will have more context from an antitrust expert soon.

Look out for the story.


You can follow @KlasfeldReports.



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