The Alliance For Natural Health

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How a Tooth-Whitening Lawsuit Landed before the Supreme Court

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—and why their decision will have far-reaching ramifications for state licensing boards.

Last year we told you about the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation of the North Carolina dental board. The FTC decided the board had attempted to monopolize the teeth whitening business, and found it had illegally thwarted competition through cease-and-desist letters. The board—composed mainly of private dentists—had sent the letters to businesses that were offering teeth whitening services, claiming that they were practicing dentistry without a license. Spas and salons were offering tooth whitening services from $75 to $125, as compared to between $400 and $1300 at a dentist’s office.

The US Court of Appeals agreed with the FTC, and now the case is in front of the Supreme Court, where oral arguments were heard last month.

The justices made some excellent points during their questioning. Justice Breyer said, “The object of antitrust laws is to prevent private individuals who compete with each other in business from getting together and making agreements…That kind of interest seems present here.” And Justice Ginsberg thought the cease-and-desist letters were out of bounds: “Why should there be an antitrust exemption for conduct that is not authorized by state law?” she asked. “The objection here was that this board was issuing a whole bunch of cease-and-desist orders. They had no authority to do that. No authority at all.”

The Supreme Court decision, once it is issued, will have implications that run far beyond the North Carolina dental board. As one FTC commissioner stated, “This is a case about whether professional associations—dentists, doctors, lawyers, title insurers, movers—can hide behind professional boards to restrict competition.”

We have long criticized state allopathic medical boards’ targeting of integrative and alternative doctors, usually done to protect their monopoly on the practice of medicine. Under the guise of “protecting the public,” medical licensure and state medical boards have been described as a self-regulating cartel; Milton Friedman, among other economists, argued that state licensure restricts the supply of physicians and stifles competition. We detailed many such abuses in our article last year.

State dietetic boards have conducted widespread surveillance (including undercover sting operations) and started aggressive investigations in an attempt to consolidate their monopoly over nutrition counseling services, reserving them for Registered Dietitians alone and excluding other credentialed nutrition specialists. The state dietetics organizations have been working to do the same through legislation—trying to create state dietetic boards that exclude nutritionists.

We don’t tolerate monopolies in other businesses—why is it OK when it comes to nutrition?

Share.
  • Suzanne

    Good question, why indeed?

  • Diana Jackson

    It is a well-known fact that the entire medical industry – AMA, Big Pharma, insurance, medical schools, CDC – is one big consortium of money hungry entities. For the most part they help promote and treat illness rather than promoting health and well-being. Time to reign them all in. Not only are they all directly linked, they are indirectly linked to Big Oil and Big Farma. Factory farms promote illness, and many pharmaceuticals have a petroleum base. It’s all about profit, the little guy be damned.

  • And so, as usual, the question(s) is/are will all the other organizations and professionals, as mentioned in this excellent article, take appropriate advantage of this Supreme Court ruling when it takes effect. We have a run away congress, a run away FDA and very run away local medical and dental boards. Who has the time and money to reign them all in so that they either do what they are supposed to do or get mandated to disband.

  • David Ponsonby

    Strange it came down to a monopoly.
    There is a kind of monopoly attendant to a license in the field e.g. dentistry.
    It would seem that there would be a need to prove that whitening required no such license, or extensive knowledge etc.
    Usually, they would seek a client who suffered problems…. then achieve a ban through a provision to protect the health of the population.
    This tactic seems to have mixed results. Rx drugs cause extensive problems but mostly endure. Herbs, supplements and chiropractors mostly cause limited harm but such harm tends to bring headlines and bans.
    In the overall scheme of things, has the Supreme Court studied mercury and fluoride?

  • Sarah Lane

    I never heard of your organization before and I’m very happy to see that there is an organization doing the work you do. Another attempt at monopolizing is the pharmaceutical industry, which is trying to ban health foods and supplements?

  • This is excellent news and a great start. I have a true story. I am a dental hygienist and naturopath who was a disruptive innovator for a new model of health delivery Alternative Health Assoc. in IL and WI, worked with Paul Ryan for 3 years, and was targeted 2x in IL once in 1995 and again 2010. It costs me $5,000 to protect my professional license and credibility,. It was suggested I fight and go to the supreme court to display unlawful control from the Dental Board of IL, but it would have cost me $ 50,000 and up, in which I had no money to fight this. So everything was dropped. Even though I did nothing wrong except speaking freely on truth and facts to the marketplace, and displaying my RDH on my business materials, they didn’t like this. I was developing a new model of health care to the consumer. Affordable with Choice. I was successful with my 2 Wellness models, until health reform changed for me, an created a business economic loss. I am now in 55, writing a book, on Beating the Odds ! Health is a Choice, and one we should be involved in. Learn how to change your health from sickness to wellness.

  • Professional Licensing Boards should restrict their activities to protecting the public from those who
    violate the oaths of their profession. Any one or any activities that they find to violate those standards should be adjudicated in a court of law. Having dealt with state license boards, they can be very necessary. While I agree that issuing “cease and decease” letters are going overboard, let us not throw the baby out with the bath water. I am incensed that you quote Milton Friedman that the boards restrict the supply of physicians, etc. to whatever professional board. I do believe in some regulation. And, that misses the point because of his “free market” ideas. Breyer and Ginsberg make excellent points about anti-trust laws, which have not been inforced for some time. Therefore, we do tolerate monopolies in other businesses.

  • Shannon Morgan

    I have worked in both professions, western medicine and 20 years of alternative healing. I have found permanent healing with NO side effects in holistic healing/treatment. Can’t say I have seen anything comparable in the “status Quo” monopoly of allupathic “medicine”, quite the opposite. Surgeries botched, leaving patients with permanent disabilities, or in line for more butchery. Drugs that last year along reached nearly 800,000 deaths due to ADR, that is NOT including overdoses or malpractice. Medicine these days means mostly choosing who deserves treatment, and there is NO HEALING taking place, only worsening of symptoms and death or added, even more dangerous maladies by taking the deadly poison “treatments” in medical pills.

    People have a God given RIGHT to choose what they eat, how they wish to be treated – even CURED, which is a dirty word in Western “medicine”. There have been CURES for cancer and many of the most widely spread killers in the world for over a hundred years. The practitioners, MDs, scientists et al that have discovered and successfully used these cures have been jailed, ridiculed, even killed to keep the Medical and Cancer Industrial Complex in charge of death and disease continuation.

    More and more people are waking up to the fact that “modern medicine” is a farce, only to keep people sick and coming back for “follow ups” with no improvement, and the Cancer machine continues to ensure that recurrent cancer occurs and kills with its deadly cut, burn, poison model. It’s barbaric, illegal and has made the Hippocratic Oath a laughing stock. I left Western medicine in good conscience and would NEVER be a part of such a killing machine again. The monopolization of this heinous “treatment” is not only illegal, it is a crime against humanity, and violates Americans’ rights to choose what is good for THEM.

    Sincerely,

    Shannon Morgan

  • Shannon Morgan

    I have worked in both professions, Western medicine and 20 years of alternative healing. I have found permanent, miraculous healing with NO side effects and NO recurrences in holistic healing/treatment too many times to count. Can’t say I have seen anything comparable in the “status quo” monopoly of “Modern Medicine”; in fact, quite the opposite. Surgeries botched, leaving patients with permanent disabilities, or in line for more butchery. Drugs that last year alone reached nearly 800,000 deaths due to ADR, that is NOT including overdoses or malpractice, only the “side effect” of death from taking the latest and deadliest chemicals, all the while Pharmaceutical companies’ profits skyrocket – along with the deaths they cause. Medicine these days often means choosing who deserves treatment, and there is NO HEALING taking place, in the ones “deserving” of it; only worsening of symptoms and/or death or added, immediately or over time due to even more dangerous maladies by taking the deadly poison “treatments” in medical pills.

    People have a God given RIGHT to choose what they eat, how they wish to be treated – even CURED, which is a dirty word in Western “medicine”. There have been NATURAL CURES for cancer and many of the most widely spread killers in the world for over a hundred years. The practitioners, MDs, scientists et al that have discovered and successfully used these cures have been jailed, ridiculed, extradited or even killed to keep the Medical and Cancer Industrial Complex in charge of death and disease continuation.

    More and more people are waking up to the fact that “modern medicine” is a farce, only to keep people sick and coming back for “follow ups” with no improvement, and the Cancer machine continues to ensure that recurrent cancer occurs and kills with its deadly cut, burn, poison model. It’s barbaric and has made the Hippocratic Oath a laughing stock. I left Western medicine in good conscience and would NEVER be a part of such a killing machine again. The monopolization of this heinous “treatment” is not only illegal, it is a crime against humanity, and violates Americans’ rights to choose what is good for THEM.

    Sincerely,

    Shannon Morgan

  • The problem with medical boards is very serious. I had my license attacked and revoked in West Virginia because of alternative practices and pain treatment–but the complaint was fabricated by the board and a patient’s mother. There are serious attacks by the FBI and DEA against doctors as well. It is a true gestapo type practice by governmental agencies.

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