Medicine: Scalpel Scalpers

Forceps, scalpels, hypodermic syringes and stethoscopes are precision-made and therefore expensive. Last week the Federal Trade Commission told why, for years, they have been costing far more than they should. Each year, doctors and hospitals buy about $100 million worth of such equipment, and 90% of the business has been cornered by firms in two cozy, closely knit groups: the American Surgical Trade Association and the Manufacturers Surgical Trade Association.

Between them, said FTC, the two associations kept prices up by shutting out competition. The A.S.T.A. put on a campaign to convince buyers that they should do business only with its members....

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