Wyden: FTC should block Kroger-Albertsons

By Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden
Press Release, 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block the proposed Kroger and Albertsons merger due to potential negative effects on consumers in Oregon and nationwide.

“Specifically, I am concerned that the proposed merger, if approved, will result in fewer pharmacy options for Oregonians, fewer economic opportunities for Oregon’s small farmers, and harm to Oregon’s workers and consumers,” Wyden wrote in the letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan. “The Oregon Health Authority undertook a preliminary review of the impact of the proposed merger on health care and found that the proposed merger would result in a harmful concentration of retail pharmacies in the state.”

In the letter, Wyden also emphasized this merger would put Oregonians’ privacy at risk due to Kroger’s policies for sharing patient information with law enforcement without warrants.

“As part of a recent inquiry I conducted into major pharmacy chains’ privacy practices, I learned that Kroger provides pharmacy records to law enforcement officials without a warrant or any internal review by a legal professional. This finding places Kroger behind the majority of its peer chain pharmacies in terms of its commitment to safeguarding patient privacy.”

“Less than a decade ago, Albertsons-Safeway proposed a similar divestiture only to buy back many of the divested stores two years later and watch the rest go out of business. I urge the FTC to use the Albertsons-Safeway outcome as a guide to the Commission as it considers possible outcomes of this proposed merger,” Wyden continued.

The Kroger-Albertsons merger threatens to make the consolidation crisis in the retail food market worse, following on large deals like the Albertsons-Safeway merger in 2015, as well as the expansion of mega-retailers across the country that have driven independent grocers out of business.

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