The national competition regulator has shown a sign of goodwill to medical technology companies that will allow them to coordinate supplies and manufacturing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following a similar approach towards supermarkets, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is putting the immediate national interest first by permitting medical tech businesses to coordinate on ventilators, testing kits, personal protective equipment and other medical equipment.
Under ordinary circumstances, coordination between competitors would run the risk of collusion.
But now members of the Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) and other groups in the industry will be able to share information between each other, coordinate orders and supply requests, prioritise requests, and jointly tender to supply Covid-19 medical equipment.
This will be made possible through an interim authorisation from the ACCC.
"Our decision will help companies urgently address potential shortages or other constraints on the supply of crucial medical equipment," says ACCC Chair Rod Sims.
"This supports government efforts to ensure governments and health services are able to provide a coordinated response to the pandemic."
The move is expected to allow these companies 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," says Sims.
Updated at 5:18pm AEDT on 25 March 2020.
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