A merger between two hearing implant suppliers has raised concerns within the UK’s competition watchdog, which said a deal could risk higher prices for the NHS and less choice for patients.
Should Cochlear and Demant’s £94m deal for Otican Medical go ahead, it would mean the combined group would control between 90 and 100 per cent of the bone conduction solutions market in the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said today.
Bone conduction solutions are implants used when people are unable to wear conventional hearing aids.
The CMA investigation is still in its first phase but the regulator remains concerned about reduced levels of innovation should a significant competitor in the market be taken out via the merger.
However, the probe found that the deal is unlikely to significantly weigh on the cochlear implant market, with Demand-owned Otican only having a small position in the market.
Cochlear impacts are surgically implanted devices that can help improve hearing loss.
CMA senior director of mergers, Sorcha O’Carroll said: “We’re concerned that this deal could lead to higher costs for the NHS and worse outcomes for patients who rely on life-changing hearing implants. The merger will wipe out one of the main suppliers and leave Cochlear with a near monopoly in the supply of bone conduction implants.
“Healthy competition in the medical technology sector is central to continued innovation, more choice and improvements in patient treatments.”