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Reference Desk August 2012

FTC Workshop Will Explore Competition and Consumer Protection in $7 Billion Pet Medications Industry

    Seeking comments from veterinary professionals, consumers by September 14

    WASHINGTON, DC—On Tuesday, October 2, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host a workshop to examine the ways pet medications are distributed to consumers, and how these practices affect consumer choice and price competition. It is estimated that 62% of American households own a pet, and that pet owners in the United States spend nearly $7 billion annually on pet medications.

    "American consumers spend a tremendous amount of money on medications for their pets every year. High prices on these medications mean that consumers have less money for necessities. It's important that these medications are safe and effective, and that pet owners get the benefits of a fair and robust marketplace," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. "This workshop will help us understand these and other issues related to the medications we buy for our pets to keep them healthy."

    Among other issues, the workshop will consider the extent to which consumers are able to obtain written, portable prescriptions that they can fill wherever they choose, and their ability to verify the safety and effectiveness of the pet medications they buy. The workshop is free and open to the public, and preregistration is not required. It will be held at the FTC's satellite conference center at 601 New Jersey Ave., NW, Washington, DC.

    At the workshop, the FTC will examine issues related to the distribution of pet medications from practical, economic, and legal standpoints. Questions to be addressed include:

    • How are pet medications distributed to consumers?
    • What are the business rationales for various pet medication distribution practices?
    • How do these practices affect prices to consumers?
    • How do these practices affect product supply and quality?
    • How do these practices affect entry into the pet medications industry?
    • What product safety issues exist with respect to these practices?
    • Are there other factors that should be considered when analyzing the competition and consumer protection issues related to the distribution of pet medications?

    More information about distribution practices in the pet medications industry and prescription portability for pet medications can be found on the FTC's website in the Federal Register notice announcing the workshop.

    The FTC is seeking public comments on the upcoming workshop from consumers, veterinarians, business representatives, economists, lawyers, academics, and other interested parties. Comments can be submitted in paper or electronic format through September 14, 2012, with full instructions available in the Federal Register notice. Comments can be submitted electronically by clicking here. Written comments should be mailed or delivered to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex X), 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580. A complete agenda for the workshop will be issued shortly and posted on the FTC's Web site.

    Source: Federal Trade Commission

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