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Supreme Court Busts Dental Boards for Restraint of Trade

from Consumers for Dental Choice, February 26, 2015

 

Supreme Court lowers the boom on self-dealing dental boards
…and the pro-mercury American Dental Association

Dear Friends,

Invoking antitrust laws, the United States Supreme Court has ordered the North Carolina dental board to stop using its power to advance the economic interests of its dentist members.   In a case prosecuted by the pro-consumer Federal Trade Commission, the Supreme Court blew the whistle on the dental board’s cozy use of its power to eliminate competition.

The North Carolina dental board members, who are mostly dentists, were using their power to wipe out businesses that were competing with them for tooth whitening services.  The Supreme Court ruled, 6 to 3, that dental board members are not regulators in the public interest, but actors with a special interest in padding their own pockets and the pockets of dentists like themselves.

Regardless of where you stand on the tooth whitening issue (and I know some of you have strong views), please consider how this case moves mercury-free dentistry forward….

For years, dental boards composed of pro-mercury dentists tried to silence their amalgam-free dentist competitors, who were blowing the whistle on a dirty industry secret: amalgam fillings are 50% mercury. Who are these dental board members?  The great majority are pre-screened by the American Dental Association’s state chapters, who hand a list of dental board candidates to pliant governors.  In some states, the governor must pick from this list. With state dental associations and dental boards holding virtually identical interests, these boards are not protecting consumers.  No, they are openly advancing the agenda of the pro-mercury state dental association that got them appointed. (To their great credit, a handful of mercury-free dentists have persevered to serve on dental boards … but they are very much in the minority.)

The many dentists who stood up to dental boards over the years are vindicated today – and so is Consumers for Dental Choice with our 20-year battle against state dental boards.  From the start, we charged dental boards with acting illegally when they tried to silence their mercury-free dentist competitors with a gag rule prohibiting them from discussing mercury with patients.  Thanks to the First Amendment, we made sure that dentists today can speak out for mercury-free dentistry.

Now, I hope this new case recognizing dental boards’ economic interest in destroying their competition represents the next step in ending the tyranny of pro-mercury dental boards who stifle the work of today’s innovative dentists.

I urge you to thank Chairwoman Edith Ramirez of the Federal Trade Commission; she filed this case against the dental board.  Write Chairwoman Ramirez at eramirez@ftc.gov or even phone her at 202-326-2856.  Please tell her “Thank you for standing up to dental boards in the case North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission.”

Starting now, we have a chance to end this corrupt bargain of dental association control over dental boards, an illicit arrangement that has brought so much pain to so many millions of people.  Starting now, we must insist that state antitrust laws are enforced to prevent dental boards from punishing their more innovative dentist competitors.  Starting now, we must protect competition, free speech, and consumer information.  These are conditions that will surely lead to the demise of mercury fillings.

Charlie
26 February 2015

Charles G. Brown
National Counsel, Consumers for Dental Choice
President, World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry
316 F St. NE, Suite 210 Washington, DC 20002 USA
Phone: 202-544-6333   Fax: 202-544-6331
www.ToxicTeeth.org