On February 12, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) filed an administrative complaint against Benco, Henry Schein, and Patterson, the three largest national full service dental supply distributors in the United States for allegedly conspiring to refuse to provide discounts to or otherwise serve buying groups representing dentists and against Benco for inviting a fourth competing distributor to take part in the illegal conspiracy. As is typical with FTC conduct cases, the complaint was brought under Section 5 of the FTC Act.
The FTC alleges that three distributors agreed to boycott buying groups, which sought discounts and lower prices for dental supplies and equipment on behalf of solo and small-group dental practices. The FTC further alleges that the agreement deprived solo and small-group dental practices from the benefits of participating in buying groups.
Benco and Henry Schein allegedly entered into an agreement whereby both distributors would refuse to provide discounts to or compete for the business of buying groups. The complaint details email, phone, and text communications between executives of the two companies evidencing the agreement, as well as attempts to monitor and ensure compliance with the agreement. On Oct. 1, 2013, a Benco executive called his counterpart at Henry Schein and “reaffirmed Benco’s commitment against buying groups.” After the call, neither distributor bid on a buying group contract. The FTC’s complaint also alleges that Patterson joined the illegal agreement.