Tampa, Florida - Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute LLC (FCS), an oncology group headquartered in Fort Myers, Florida, was charged with conspiring to allocate medical and radiation oncology treatments for cancer patients in Southwest Florida, the Department of Justice announced. This charge is the first in the department’s ongoing investigation into market allocation in the oncology industry.
According to a one-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court in Fort Myers, Florida, FCS participated in a criminal antitrust conspiracy with a competing oncology group in Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties (Southwest Florida). FCS and its co-conspirators agreed not to compete to provide chemotherapy and radiation treatments to cancer patients in Southwest Florida. Beginning as early as 1999 and continuing until at least 2016, FCS entered into an illegal agreement that allocated chemotherapy treatments to FCS and radiation treatments to a competing oncology group. This conspiracy allowed FCS to operate with minimal competition in Southwest Florida and limited valuable integrated care options and choices for cancer patients.
The Antitrust Division also announced a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) resolving the charge against FCS, under which the company admitted to conspiring to allocate chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer patients. FCS has agreed to pay a $100 million criminal penalty —the statutory maximum— and to cooperate fully with the Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation. FCS has also agreed to maintain an effective compliance program designed to prevent and detect criminal antitrust violations.
“Today’s resolution, with one of the largest independent oncology groups in the United States, is a significant step toward ensuring that cancer patients in Southwest Florida are afforded the benefits of competition for life-saving treatments,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “For almost two decades, FCS and its co-conspirators agreed to cheat by limiting treatment options available to cancer patients in order to line their pockets. The Antitrust Division is continuing its investigation to ensure that all responsible participants are held accountable to the maximum extent possible.”
“The FBI has no tolerance for medical providers who stand to profit by criminally exploiting cancer patients,” said Michael McPherson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Tampa Field Office. “We will not turn a blind eye while executives pad their pockets to the detriment of vulnerable Americans. We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that the public has access to a competitive marketplace for healthcare.”
Additionally, the agreement includes a non-compete waiver aimed at increasing competition in the treatment of cancer patients in Southwest Florida. Under the agreement’s terms, FCS has agreed not to enforce any non-compete provisions with its current or former oncologists or other employees who, during the term of the DPA, open or join an oncology practice in Southwest Florida.
This charge is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into market allocation and other anticompetitive conduct in the oncology industry, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division and the FBI’s Tampa Field Office – Fort Meyers RA.
The Florida Office of the Attorney General separately announced today that, in connection with its own independent investigation, FCS agreed to settle civil claims that it violated Florida antitrust laws.