OPINION: Sen. Sullivan is right to be concerned about FTC oversight

The close-knit community of Alaska relies on our lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to ensure we are advancing solutions that are best for our businesses and our families. That is why I am especially grateful for legislators like Sen. Dan Sullivan who share the same focus on preserving our free enterprise and opposing unnecessary government intervention.

A perfect example of this was last month during a U.S. Senate Commerce hearing in which the committee was discussing a very dangerous piece of legislation. S. 127, the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Transparency Act. This legislation would give the Federal Trade Commission, which is already under deep scrutiny for its record of stifling competition in our market, the power to cherry-pick the winners and losers of the prescription drug market.

During the hearing, Sen. Sullivan raised concerns about this bill by saying, “I’m starting to have increasing concerns about the leadership at the FTC. I did not vote for the chair, Lina Khan. There was a Wall Street Journal article just recently; the last Republican commissioner on the FTC is resigning, and she’s doing so in part because she said, quote, ‘Khan’s willful disregard of congressionally imposed limits on agency jurisdiction, defiance of legal precedent, abuse of power.’ So I’m getting a little nervous about the FTC both currently with the leadership, but also, is it structurally the right federal agency to be taking a look at the transparency issues?”

The answer is no, a federal agency should never have that much power over private businesses, especially an agency such as this administration’s FTC. We should not reward bad behavior, and that’s just what S. 127 would do.

As Sen. Sullivan said, the only Republican commissioner announced her resignation earlier this month because of the FTC’s continued actions against our free enterprise. How could we even consider giving the FTC more control over our private businesses?

As a business owner myself, advancing this type of legislation would have dangerous implications for our future. It would start a treacherous precedent that the FTC could apply to just about any industry. It is a slippery slope that we have to stop. The FTC has already made calls way out of its jurisdiction; who’s to say what it will do if they’re given even more power?

To make matters even more concerning, this bill would also increase prescription drug costs for patients, businesses and families. We rely on pharmacy benefits to help secure savings. For employers and patients, the savings secured by these benefits amount to more than $600 per enrollee. This bill would strip those savings away.


Our markets and businesses flourish when there is limited government intervention so we can allow competition forces to drive down costs for consumers. It is no different in the prescription drug marketplace. There is no business for more regulatory red tape in this market or any American market.

I stand by Sen. Sullivan’s comments about concerns to increase the FTC’s power and hope he and other legislators will work to oppose legislation that would drastically expand the oversight abilities of an already out-of-control agency and increase prescription drug costs for Alaskans.

Hugh Ashlock is a lifelong Alaskan and a successful small business owner in Anchorage.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.