The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will consider the extent to which state licensure boards are subject to federal antitrust laws. In the case, North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that decisions of the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners related to unauthorized and unlawful practice are subject to federal antitrust law. The dental board had sent cease-and-desist letters to non-dentist teeth-whitening providers, finding that they engaged in unauthorized practice of dentistry. The FTC issued an administrative complaint against the dental board, charging it with violating federal antitrust law by excluding non-dentist teeth whiteners from the market.
If affirmed, the appeals court’s decision could potentially strip various state licensing boards of their authority to regulate and protect the public from unlawful practice. In a petition filed in November 2013, the AVMA joined the American Dental Association, American Medical Association and several other organizations in urging the Supreme Court to consider the case on the grounds that the public is best served when state regulatory boards are free to make decisions on public health issues without fear of second-guessing under federal antitrust laws.