Group Purchasing Organizations: Use of Contracting Processes and Strategies to Award Contracts for Medical-Surgical Products

GAO-03-998T Published: Jul 16, 2003. Publicly Released: Jul 16, 2003.
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Hospitals have increasingly relied on purchasing intermediaries--GPOs--to keep the cost of medical-surgical products in check. By pooling purchases for their hospital customers, GPOs'in awarding contracts to medical-surgical product manufacturers--may negotiate lower prices for these products. Some manufacturers contend that GPOs are slow to select products to place on contract and establish high administrative fees that make it difficult for some firms to obtain a GPO contract. The manufacturers also express concern that certain contracting strategies to obtain better prices have the potential to limit competition when practiced by GPOs with a large share of the market. GAO was asked to examine certain GPO business practices. It focused on seven large GPOs serving hospitals nationwide regarding (1) their processes to select manufacturers' products for their hospital customers and the level of administrative fees they receive from manufacturers, (2) their use of contracting strategies to obtain favorable prices from manufacturers, and (3) recent initiatives taken to respond to concerns about GPO business practices.

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