In a series of legal cases played out over several years, the three largest distributors of dental supplies in the U.S. will be hit collectively with an estimated $100 million or more in settlement and legal fees to resolve alleged antitrust, price-fixing and consumer fraud violations. The connecting threads are a combination of emerging trends – the increasing strength of buying groups, digital disruption and pressures on traditional distribution models.
In October 2018, the “Big 3” dental distributors – Henry Schein, Patterson Companies and Benco Dental – settled a class-action lawsuit for $80 million in New York. It was one of several actions over the past few years, including some by the Federal Trade Commission, that include claims of margin- and price-fixing, anti-poaching agreements, and market boycotts. In all cases, the distributors deny the claims and admit to no wrongdoing.