ANTITRUST COMPLIANCE GUIDELINES Active participation in the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (“ACAAI”) is an important aspect of membership in the organization. Participation not only adds to the vitality and energy of the organization, but also furthers ACAAI’s mission of promoting excellence in the practice of the subspecialty of allergy and immunology.
While the positive contributions of professional societies are well recognized and encouraged, society activities also are subject to close scrutiny under both federal and state antitrust laws. The single most significant law affecting professional societies is the Sherman Antitrust Act, which makes unlawful every contract, combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade. Because a professional society is, by nature, a group of competitors joined together for a common business or professional purpose, a professional society may satisfy what would ordinarily be a difficult element in proving an antitrust violation. As such, any society activity that could be perceived as a restraint of trade may expose ACAAI and its members to antitrust risk.
Historically, the most significant area of antitrust concern for professional societies has been price fixing. Price fixing is a very broad term which includes any concerted effort or action that has an effect on prices, costs, terms or conditions of trade, or on competitors. Accordingly, ACAAI members and leaders should refrain from any discussion which may provide the basis for an inference that they agreed to take action with respect to prices, services, allocation of markets, or any other matter having a market effect. These discussions should be avoided both at formal meetings and informal gatherings and activities. In addition, meeting participants should be sensitive to other matters that may raise particular antitrust concern for professional societies: membership restrictions, codes of ethics, or other forms of self-regulation or certification. The following are guidelines that should be followed at all ACAAI meetings, informal gatherings, and activities:
DON’T discuss your own or others’ prices or fees for service or anything that might affect prices or fees, such as costs, discounts, terms of sale, or profit margins.
DON’T discuss what you or other member physicians plan to do in particular geographic or product markets or with particular patients, including the elimination, restriction, or limitation of the quantity or quality of any service to be offered to patients or limitation of services to particular territories, customers, or groups of patients.