Josh Hawley asks FTC to probe Amazon One Medical deal

In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission last week, US Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., asked the regulator to take a closer look at the proposal. $3.9 billion merger between Amazon and One Medical.

“I see that the FTC is currently engaged in a variety of efforts to counter America’s growing economic concentration and the power of the tech giants,” he said. Hawley wrote. “However, I would recommend looking into this particular deal first.”

The senator said the acquisition would “give Amazon access to huge chunks of patient data.”

While he acknowledges that HIPAA and other privacy laws can “prevent the worst potential abuses,” Hawley also points out that “vulnerabilities exist in every regulatory framework. “

Some scenarios, “once written as scary fiction, are now a very real possibility,” he said. “For example, if an individual is diagnosed with high blood pressure by Dr One Medical, would he then be advertised for an over-the-counter blood pressure medication whenever he shopped at Whole Foods Market? “

There are currently no FDA-approved OTC medications for hypertension.

Hawley also said the deal would further strengthen Amazon’s market dominance, potentially reshaping the power dynamics of the primary care space.

“It doesn’t matter if such a primary care market is currently competitive: by entering dozens of smaller markets, Amazon positions itself to ultimately become the dominant player in each market, because cross-subsidy allows Amazon to provide service at loss, and data-driven network effects allow Amazon to market at a level that its competitors can’t match.”

He ended his letter by asking the FTC to find answers to several questions, including:

  • If yes, what does Amazon intend to set up a firewall between patient data and retail customer data?

  • What products does Amazon plan to develop after this acquisition?

“American privacy and safety is now being addressed in a whole new way,” Hawley wrote. “Amazon shouldn’t be allowed to buy its way into this industry.”

Mike Miliard is the executive editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.

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