Cooperation to aid supply of COVID-19 medical equipment

25 March 2020

Medical technology companies will be allowed to work together to coordinate the supply and potential manufacture in Australia of ventilators, testing kits, personal protective equipment and other medical equipment needed to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ACCC has granted interim authorisation to the Medical Technology Association of Australia (the MTAA) to allow its members and other groups, such as suppliers or distributors of medical equipment, to share information between each other, co-ordinate orders and supply requests, prioritise requests, and jointly tender to supply COVID-19 medical equipment.

“Our decision will help companies urgently address potential shortages or other constraints on the supply of crucial medical equipment,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“This supports government efforts to ensure governments and health services are able to provide a coordinated response to the pandemic.”

The interim authorisation allows MTAA members and others to coordinate the manufacture and supply of equipment, and exchange information so that potential supply shortages can be addressed more quickly.

It will also allow them to keep Federal Government, State and Territory Governments and relevant health agencies up to date on supply issues.

“Medical technology companies will now be able to roll out a coordinated plan for supplies of medical equipment nation-wide, which is likely to be crucial in assisting Australia’s response to COVID-19,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC granted interim authorisation on Wednesday morning after receiving the application on Tuesday, and will now seek feedback on interim authorisation, as well as the application for final authorisation for a period of 12 months. More information, including the ACCC’s statement of reasons, is available at Medical Technology Association of Australia Limited.

This follows interim ACCC authorisations for banks to offer a small business relief package and supermarkets to coordinate grocery supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Background

ACCC authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment. The ACCC may review a decision on interim authorisation at any time, including in response to feedback raised following interim authorisation.

The MTAA is the national association representing companies in the medical technology industry, representing manufacturers and suppliers of medical technology used in the diagnosis, prevention, treatment and management of disease and disability. MTAA members distribute a wide range of medical technology, which includes ICU ventilators, COVID-19 testing kits and personal protective equipment.

Release number: 
46/20
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