President Obama names Jon Leibowitz '84 to lead Federal Trade Commission

President Barack Obama has named U.S. Federal Trade Commission member Jon Leibowitz '84 the chairman of the regulatory agency that reviews mergers and enforces consumer protection laws, the Washington Post reports.

"I am honored and grateful that President Obama has selected me to lead this remarkable agency," Leibowitz said. "I look forward to continuing our rich tradition of vigorous antitrust enforcement and consumer protection."

Leibowitz was appointed a Democratic member of the commission in 2004 and succeeds FTC Chairman William Kovacic, a Republican who has told colleagues he will remain on the five-member commission.

Leibowitz’s appointment did not require Senate confirmation as he was already a member of the commission.

As a member of the FTC, Leibowitz championed the agency’s efforts to prevent makers of brand-name drugs from paying manufacturers of less expensive alternative medications to keep their products off the market. The FTC has filed numerous lawsuits to challenges these “reverse payments” in drug patent settlements. The agency also has sought legislation to make it easier for antitrust enforcers to challenge these arrangements, which the FTC argues cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars per year in higher drug prices.

Leibowitz has generally advocated more aggressive enforcement by the FTC. In dissents from commission orders, he has favored steeper civil penalties or tougher remedies to preserve competition.

Prior to joining the FTC, Leibowitz was a lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America, the movie industry trade group. He was also the Democratic counsel to the Senate Judiciary antitrust committee during his 14 years as a Senate aide.

Watch Jon Liebowitz's January 12 speech at the Law School's Public Interest Forum