Benco won't appeal FTC ruling, Patterson settles

By Melissa Busch, assistant editor

November 12, 2019 -- Benco Dental announced that it will not appeal the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finding that the dental product distributor and Patterson Companies conspired not to offer discount pricing to dental buying groups.

Meanwhile, Patterson announced that it had reached a settlement with the FTC. The FTC's ruling, which was announced on October 16, cleared the third defendant, Henry Schein. The FTC's chief administrative law judge found that Henry Schein didn't conspire to undermine dental buying groups, which negotiate better prices for solo and small dental practices.

Though Benco "respectfully disagrees" with the FTC's ruling and initially had announced it would fight its findings, a company spokesperson said it found no good reason to move ahead with an appeal.

"Considering that no fine was imposed, or onerous restrictions put in place, we feel there is little to gain by committing any further resources to the matter," a Benco spokesperson said in a statement released on November 12.

Benco was pleased that "contrary to the FTC's original claim, it was concluded that there was no industrywide conspiracy regarding dental buying groups," the spokesperson added.

In a statement issued by Patterson on November 8, representatives for the dental distributor stated the FTC did not reach a final determination regarding its alleged conduct as a result of them reaching a settlement. Patterson and the FTC agreed not to appeal the judge's initial recommendation, and the company agreed to abide by the terms of the proposed remedial order, which did not impose fines or require monitoring from a third party.

Though Patterson believed it had meritorious grounds to appeal the initial decision, the company determined that a settlement was in its best interest for business reasons.

"Patterson determined that a settlement is in the company's best interest, and allows us to avoid the costs, distraction, and uncertainty related to this matter," the company stated.

Patterson agreed to maintain its ongoing personnel training on antitrust laws and continue making independent decisions about buying groups as part of the settlement.

"We continue to categorically deny any wrongdoing and believe that the facts and mainstream legal precedent demonstrate the company's independent and lawful decision-making in a highly competitive industry," Patterson stated.

In a complaint filed in 2018, the FTC alleged that the three companies violated U.S. antitrust laws by conspiring to refuse to serve or provide discounts to dental buying groups. Documents presented at trial alleged that high-level executives at the companies discussed this.

Copyright © 2019

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