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Products’ route to dental offices sometimes complex: a glance at possible avenues

September 07, 2015

By Kelly Soderlund

Editor’s note: This is the second story in a series focusing on the gray market and how it affects dentists, patients and manufacturers.

The path a dental product takes from the manufacturer to the customer should ideally be a straight line.

But when third, fourth or even fifth parties get involved, the products the customers receive may not be the ones they thought they were purchasing. At the very least, the lines are blurred as to whether a customer is receiving the exact product ordered.

Dentists may purchase products from dealers, brokers, distributors, off the Internet and even overseas. Not every product purchased through these avenues is a noncompliant one, but they’re all possible pathways for gray market items.

The operative piece for dentists is to know that if they are buying from an authorized distributor or dealer they can be assured that they are receiving a product regulated by the Food and Drug Administration for this country. If not, they need to be checking to see if the product they receive is what they believe to be compliant and not past its expiration. In the dental industry the designation of “distributor” and “dealer” can be interchangeable in some situations. The agreements with manufacturers can be more varied and complicated than the illustrated example of potential product pathways.