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November 25, 1983

Antitrust and Medical Ethics

JAMA. 1983;250(20):2759-2760. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03340200013006

ON DEC 19, 1975, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) brought an action against the American Medical Association, the Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS), and the New Haven County Medical Association (NHCMA) charging them with illegally restricting members from advertising and soliciting patients and interfering in the contractual relations between members and other entities, such as group prepaid plans, health maintenance organizations, and nonphysicians. The CSMS and NHCMA were included in the complaint on the grounds that state and local medical associations follow the lead of the AMA and because the FTC believed that there was a conspiracy among them and their members to restrict competition among physicians through ethical limitations on advertising, solicitation, and contractual relationships.

The administrative law judge found that the ethical practices complained of were anticompetitive, unreasonable restraints of trade, and therefore unfair methods of competition in violation of §5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.