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July 22, 1983

Antitrust and Professional Activities

Author Affiliations

From the Office of the General Counsel, American Medical Association. Mr Hirsh is now with the law firm of Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon, Chicago. For further information and reprints, write to the Office of the General Counsel, American Medical Association, 535 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60610.

JAMA. 1983;250(4):491-492. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03340040031024

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The existing body of antitrust law has evolved from commercial competition in the marketplace. Broad application of antitrust concepts to the professions is relatively new and can be traced in its development through a series of several landmark court decisions. The precise dimensions of professional self-regulation, however, are yet to be judicially defined.

In American Medical Association v United States, 317 US 519 (1943), the AMA and other defendants were convicted of violating §3 of the Sherman Act by obstructing and restraining the business of a group health plan. The defendants argued that the practice of medicine is not a "trade" and that the Sherman Act therefore did not apply. The Supreme Court refrained from deciding this issue and held that "the calling" or occupation of the individual physicians charged as defendants was immaterial if the purpose and effect of their conspiracy was obstruction and restraint of the business of