Federal Trade Commission

FTC sues IQVIA to block Propel Media acquisition

Yesterday the Federal Trade Commission released an administrative complaint and announced that it is suing to block IQVIA’s acquisition of Propel Media to prevent increased concentration in health care programmatic advertising

“Protecting competition in the emerging health care programmatic advertising market plays a critical role in lowering health care costs, including the cost of prescription drugs.” said FTC Bureau of Competition Director Holly Vedova in an agency press release. “Given the rampant consolidation across the pharmaceutical industry, it’s critical that the market for health care product advertising remains competitive to ensure that patients and their doctors have access to high quality, affordable products.”

According to the FTC, IQVIA’s Lasso Marketing and PMI’s DeepIntent are two of the top three providers of programmatic advertising that targets healthcare professionals with advertising for drugs and other healthcare products. The complaint alleges that the proposed transaction would eliminate head-to-head competition between Lasso and DeepIntent, driving up prices and reducing quality and choice.

“Competition in this market is necessary to protect patients from higher health care prices that could be passed on if the cost of marketing health care products increases due to reduced competition. The FTC contends the deal would also reduce innovation in this emerging industry, potentially harming patients by preventing doctors and other health care practitioners from learning about useful pharmaceutical products,” the FTC release states. “Because IQVIA’s datasets are considered the “gold standard” among health care industry participants, health care advertisers frequently prefer that demand-side platforms use IQVIA data in their programmatic advertising campaigns to health care professionals. According to the complaint, if IQVIA and PMI merge, IQVIA will have the ability and incentive to leverage its control over these important datasets to foreclose or otherwise disadvantage current or emerging rivals to DeepIntent and Lasso, raising prices for its data, reducing data quality, or restricting advertisers from using its data.”