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Private equity is taking over dermatology practices

Private equity firms are snapping up dermatology practices, and at least some health care experts are not thrilled about it.

By the numbers: More than 700 dermatology practices are now owned by private equity. The number of takeovers increased 12-fold from 2012 to 2017.

What they’re saying: That rapid pace raises a lot of questions about what will happen under private equity firms’ quest for rapid growth, and the consequences once they sell, former deputy FDA commissioner Joshua Sharfstein writes in a JAMA Dermatology editorial.

  • "At the current pace, by the time more is understood about the takeover of dermatology practices by private equity firms, it will likely be too late to change course. Efforts to protect the field of dermatology and the American public from the potential adverse consequences should begin now," he wrote.

Between the lines: It’s not just dermatology. Private equity firms have big health care appetites generally.

  • One big difference, though: They’ve previously gravitated toward emergency services and ambulances — services that, if you need them, you’re in no position to turn them down because of the price.
  • Dermatology doesn’t quite fit that bill, but it’s nevertheless a lucrative specialty.

Go deeper: Private equity's thirst for health care providers