The Federal Trade Commission yesterday dropped its administrative challenge to a proposed merger between Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington, WV, citing state approval of a cooperative agreement between the hospitals and a new state law on hospital cooperative agreements. In a statement, Cabell Huntington Hospital officials said the decision “paves the way for two strong hospital systems to join together to improve the quality of health care and expand the scope of services for the region we serve in prudent and cost efficient ways. We are confident that health care consumers will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this transaction. We are extremely grateful for the tremendous support that we received from the community as well as the recognition by the West Virginia Legislature of the compelling interest of the State in the efficient delivery of health care by the passage of the Cooperative Agreement Act.” Melinda Reid Hatton, AHA senior vice president and general counsel, said, “If nothing else, this case should serve as a wake-up call for the FTC to come to grips with how the health care landscape is changing and the proper role competition policy should play in that evolution.”