On February 2, 2016, our attorneys filed an antitrust class action lawsuit against the three largest distributors of dental supplies and equipment in the United States – Patterson Companies, Inc., Henry Schein, Inc., and Benco Dental Supply Company – alleging the companies have unlawfully acted in concert to attempt to eliminate competition instead of competing against each other in the dental supplies market. The lawsuit further alleges that this coordinated conduct has allowed the defendants to charge dentists, orthodontists, and dental laboratories artificially high prices for dental supplies and equipment.
Our attorneys represent a putative class of dental practices and dental laboratories who may have suffered financial losses from paying allegedly artificially high prices for dental supplies.
Three Dental Supply Distributors Own 80-90% of Sales
Patterson Companies, Inc., Henry Schein, Inc., and Benco Dental Supply collectively possess between 80% and 90% of all sales in the domestic dental supplies market. Dental supplies are items that dental practices use in their daily business, including anesthetics; cements and liners; disposable paper and cotton supplies; impression materials; instruments; orthodontics; and x-ray films.
Because dental practices require many different types of dental supplies from many different manufacturers, they typically choose to purchase supplies from full-line distributors offering a wide range of products from numerous manufacturers. Patterson Companies, Inc., Henry Schein, Inc., and Benco Dental Supply are each full-line distributors, offering a “one-stop shop” for dentists.
Distributors Allegedly Threaten Manufacturers and Pressure Dentists
While some new full-line distributors have attempted to enter the market for dental supplies, our lawsuit alleges that the defendants have illegally conspired to prevent these would-be competitors from gaining meaningful market share by threatening not to distribute the products of manufacturers who sell to these new competitors; agreeing to boycott trade shows by state dental associations that planned to do business with new competitors; and pressuring dentists to refrain from buying supplies from new competitors by threatening to not provide necessary service to dental equipment purchased from the defendants.
According to our lawsuit, the defendants have been successful, and competitors have been unable to gain a meaningful share in the market for dental supplies. As a result, the lawsuit alleges, dental practices have been forced to pay artificially high prices for supplies and equipment for the past several years.
The successful entry of a competitor into the dental supplies market may cause prices to decrease significantly for customers, the lawsuit says.
State and federal governmental entities are investigating the defendants’ conduct. The Attorneys General of Texas and Arizona have launched investigations. After filing a complaint against Benco in April 2015, the Texas Attorney General agreed to settle with Benco if the company agreed to pay $300,000 for fees and costs associated with the suit and to cooperate with the Attorney General’s ongoing investigation of other distributors.
The Federal Trade Commission has also initiated its own investigation.
Our lawsuit seeks to put an end to the defendants’ allegedly anti-competitive behavior in the dental supplies market, as well as obtain monetary damages for dental practices who may have paid artificially high prices for dental supplies and equipment since as early as 2012.
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Gibbs Law Group LLP represents consumers and small businesses in class action lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, electronics manufacturers, airlines, utilities providers, and others.
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