Brattle academic advisor Aaron Edlin, a professor of law and economics at the University of California, Berkeley, recently co-authored the article “Letting Dentists Feel the Bite of Competition,” published in the Wall Street Journal.

The article discusses the significance of the recent ruling in the case North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, in which the Supreme Court affirmed the FTC’s position that state licensing boards controlled by “active market participants – those who practice the profession – are exempt from antitrust lawsuits only if they are also supervised by state government.”

The case arose in 2006 when the FTC sued the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners for banning salons, spas, and other businesses from offering teeth-whitening services, alleging that this move constituted unfair competition in violation of the 1914 Federal Trade Commission Act.

Professor Edlin and his co-author, Professor Rebecca Haw Allensworth from Vanderbilt University, believe that this decision will make many professional boards in the United States vulnerable to antitrust suits for anticompetitive regulations. The authors theorize that changes states must enact to immunize boards from litigation will make regulation more transparent, and provide opportunity for more competition among professionals. It is also a possibility that the states will do nothing, with the belief that professional regulations addressing health and safety risks are sufficient in preventing self-dealing and anticompetitive regulation.

The article can be read in its entirety below.

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