Editor’s Corner February 2017

Jonathon Kimes 5-13Regulatory Update

As the 85th Texas Legislature is now in session, you will soon be deluged with information about the legislative session and the State Board of Dental Examiners Sunset Bill.  There are still a few interesting things going on outside of downtown Austin though.

Buda Re-Fluoridates its Community Water Supply

During the November 2015 elections, San Marcos residents voted to stop the fluoridation of their community water supply.  Some surrounding communities were also inadvertently affected.  The City of Buda, for example, buys about half of its water from the same San Marcos plant that stopped fluoridation.  Buda has taken the issue up on its own and will begin fluoridating its water again.  The city has been working with the Texas Fluoridation program since 2015, in preparation for the need.  There was some initial resistance from one Buda City Council member, but his efforts were overcome.  A win for the dental health of the people of Buda!

The EPA has Announced a Final Rule on Amalgam Separators

With the purpose of reducing the amount of environmental mercury contamination, the EPA has announced their final rule, which will require dental offices to have amalgam separators in place within the next 3 years.  The rule also requires submission of a one-time compliance report (not available as of press time) as well as implementation of two ADA best management practices, one that prohibits the discharge of scrap amalgam, and the other which prohibits the use of line cleaners that may lead to the dissolution of solid mercury when cleaning chair-side traps and vacuum lines.  The rule does not apply to mobile units or offices where the practice of dentistry consists only of the following dental specialties: oral pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, periodontics, or prosthodontics.  For more information, visit www.epa.gov/eg/dental-effluent-guidelines

Class Action Lawsuit against Major Dental Suppliers Moves Forward

Early last year, a class action lawsuit was filed against Henry Schein, Patterson, Burkhart, and Benco Dental Suppliers with claims of price-fixing and violation of anti-trust regulations.  More recently, a federal judge refused to dismiss the case, and the prosecution has asked for a jury trial.  Allegations against the dental suppliers are that they have been “illegally engaging in a conspiracy to boycott competitor dental product distributors and other entities that do business with such competitors, in order to allow Defendants to maintain and extend their dominant collective market power in the market for the distribution of dental supplies and dental equipment (collectively, ‘dental supplies’) in the United States.”  The companies are also accused of blocking the entry and expansion of “lower-margin, lower-priced, rival dental distributors into the market” by engaging in a “concerted and collusive effort that involved threats to boycott collectively, and actual group boycotts of, dental supply and equipment manufacturers, state dental trade associations, dental practices, and other industry participants that chose to deal with or sell to lower-priced dental distributors.”  No trial date has been set.

By Jonathon R. Kimes, DDS