The Australia Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Tuesday granted interim authorisation to the Australia New Zealand Industrial Gas Association (ANZIGA) to exchange information about medical oxygen amid Covid-19.

In May, ANZIGA applied for authorisation on behalf of itself, its members and their related bodies, and other suppliers of medical oxygen to hospitals and similar medical facilities in Australia to enable them to exchange information to ensure security of supply of medical oxygen in the event of significant demand increases or supply constraints during the pandemic.

In the event of a threat to the supply of medical oxygen, ANZIGA sought authorisation to exchange information in relation to each party’s available stocks of, anticipated demand for and ability to supply medical oxygen in either bulk liquid or gas cylinder form.

According to the filing with the ACCC, this could include disclosing the identity, location and immediate requirements for medical oxygen of particular customers.

It could also include restricting the supply of oxygen to customers other than hospitals and similar medical facilities; determining who should supply particular hospitals or similar medical facilities; coordinating the delivery of medical oxygen to particular areas or to particular hospitals or medical facilities; and otherwise coordinating between the parties to ensure that medical oxygen can be supplied in the most efficient manner possible so as to reduce the risk of an inability to supply any hospital or similar medical facility.

The ACCC granted interim authorisation subject to the following conditions:

  • The parties must give the ACCC written notice that states they have identified a threat to the supply of medical oxygen and describes the nature of that threat and the geographic area affected
  • The parties must confirm where the threat affects the public health system and that the threat is unable to be managed by way of bilateral supply arrangements
  • The parties must provide regular updates to the ACCC and provide all information and documents requested by the ACCC.

In its decision notice, the ACCC said it granted conditional interim authorisation solely for the purposes of ensuring supply of medical oxygen to hospitals and medical facilities that are impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The ACCC recognises the need for the parties to be in a position to respond to the potential impact of a demand increase or supply constraint on the distribution of medical oxygen to hospitals and medical facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic,” the notice said.