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Payton T. Thornton

(he/him/his)

Associate

[email protected]

+1.202.434.7435

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Payton focuses his practice on antitrust and competition matters, including antitrust compliance, merger review, and government investigations. He primarily advises clients in the health care sector.

While earning his JD, Payton served as an antitrust legal intern at Mintz, assisting with federal merger reviews. He also worked as an antitrust law clerk for a think tank focused on technology issues, where his role included drafting, filing, and submitting comments before the Federal Trade Commission on worker non-competes, exclusionary contracts, and unfair methods of competition rulemaking authority. His other roles included working as a research assistant at the Global Antitrust Institute as well as an in-house law clerk for the Stand Together philanthropic community, where he counseled the organization’s clients on a broad range of issues, including employment law, charitable giving, corporate reorganization, tax status, and election law.

In law school, Payton earned his JD with a concentration in Antitrust Law. He served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Law, Economics and Policy and was on the ABA Nationals Team of the Antonin Scalia Law School Moot Court Board.

viewpoints

Exactly two weeks after issuing an interim staff report on Pharmaceutical Benefit Managers (PBMs) pursuant to its Section 6(b) authority to study markets, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has initiated another 6(b) study relating to “surveillance pricing” products and services and their potential impact on privacy, competition, and consumer protection.

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On July 9, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Office of Policy Planning released an Interim Staff Report titled Pharmacy Benefit Managers: The Powerful Middlemen Inflating Drug Costs and Squeezing Main Street Pharmacies. The Interim Staff Report reflects the FTC’s work since it began its 6(b) study of PBMs in June 2022.  Mintz’s Health and Antitrust teams actively monitor federal and state regulatory and legislative developments in the PBM space, including those from the FTC. In this Special Edition of the PBM Policy and Legislative Update, the Mintz Health team partnered with our Antitrust colleagues to analyze the Interim Staff Report including Commissioner Melissa Holyoak’s dissenting statement.  We also highlight upcoming Congressional testimony by CEOs of the three largest PBMs, as well as media reports of a forthcoming FTC action related to PBM insulin rebate practices.

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Last week, a federal judge in North Carolina declined to preliminarily enjoin Novant Health, Inc.’s (“Novant”) acquisition of two hospitals from Community Health Systems, Inc. (“CHS”). The FTC filed suit in federal court and in its in-house administrative court in January, alleging that the transaction violated Section 7 of the Clayton Act in the market for inpatient general acute care services sold to commercial health plans and their members.  

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Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced increased jurisdictional thresholds for premerger notification filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (the “HSR Act”), as amended. The FTC revises the thresholds annually based on changes in the gross national product. The new thresholds take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and apply to all transactions closing on or after that date.

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Since the beginning of Chair Khan’s tenure at the Federal Trade Commission (and in line with President Biden’s aim to curb rising health care costs), the current FTC has committed to bring enforcement actions against health care consolidation and rising prices. Over the past two years the FTC has employed novel competition tools to achieve this purpose, as demonstrated by the Commission’s suit last week against a private equity firm and its related specialty practice—alleging violations of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, Section 7 of the Clayton Act and Section 5 of the FTC Act.

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The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), the Department of Justice Antitrust Division (“DOJ”), and the new proposed merger guidelines have all called out private equity transactions for particular scrutiny.
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The FTC and DOJ jointly published draft merger guidelines reflecting the agencies’ current aggressive approach to merger enforcement. In an article, Mintz Antitrust attorneys discuss the draft guidelines’ move away from the consumer welfare standard, lower thresholds for deals presumed to be illegal, and other key changes, including a focus on the effect of industry roll-ups.

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Recognition & Awards

  • George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School: Marketplace of Ideas Award (2022)

  • George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School, LGBTQ Resources Center: Possibility Model Award (2022)

  • Washington DC Super Lawyers: Rising Star - Antitrust Litigation (2024)

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Involvement

  • Young Lawyer Representative to The Antitrust Source, Antitrust Law Section, American Bar Association
  • Board of Directors, District of Columbia LGBTQ+ Bar Association
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