Sunny Samaritans and Egomaniacs: Price-Fixing in the Gamete Market
51 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2009 Last revised: 26 May 2009
Date Written: May 23, 2009
This Article considers the market structure of the human egg (or “oocyte”) donation business, particularly the presence of anti-competitive behavior by the fertility industry, including horizontal price-fixing of the type long considered per se illegal in other industries. The Article explores why this attempted collusion has failed to generate the same public and regulatory concern prompted by similar behavior in other industries, arguing that the persistent dialogue of gift-giving and altruistic donation obscures both the highly commercial nature of egg “donation” and the benefits to the fertility industry of controlling the price of a necessary input into many fertility services – namely, eggs. A comparison to the egg market’s closest cousin – the sperm market – does not reveal similar collusive attempts to depress the price of sperm. A further analysis of the industry explores potential reasons for this difference.
Keywords: egg, oocyte, sperm, antitrust, sherman act, price-fixing, restraint on competition, fertility industry
JEL Classification: K00, K21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation