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FTC judge dismisses antitrust complaint against Henry Schein

D. Michael Chappell, the chief administrative law judge of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, issued an initial decision dismissing claims that Henry Schein Inc. conspired with Benco Dental Supply Co. Inc. and Patterson Cos. Inc. to unreasonably restrain price competition.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a case against the distributors, which control 85% of all distributor sales of dental products and services in the U.S., in February 2018 for refusing to provide discounts or otherwise serve clients buying on behalf of solo and small-group dental practices.

Additionally, the judge ordered Patterson and Benco Dental to refrain from engaging in any anti-competitive practices, maintain an antitrust compliance program to comply with the court's decision and antitrust laws. As part of this program, both companies are required to designate an antitrust compliance officer, provide training to executives and sales staff, set forth violations reporting procedure and establish policies to discipline employees who fail to comply.

The judge's initial recommendation did not include a monetary fine or penalty or imposing an outside monitor and is not binding, Patterson noted in its Oct. 16 press release. The case is now subject to a final decision by the FTC's commissioners.

Patterson, which sells dental and animal health products in the U.S., said it strongly disagrees with any finding against the company and will evaluate all legal options, including an appeal to the full commission to review the facts of the matter. It does not expect this case to have a material adverse effect on its financial condition or results of operations.

Melville, N.Y.-based Henry Schein provides health care products and services to dental practitioners and laboratories, physician practices, government and institutional healthcare clinics worldwide.