The U.S. Department of Justice is continuing to investigate market allocation in the oncology industry, announcing on April 30, 2020 that 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 one-count felony charge filed on April 30, 2020 in the U.S. District Court in Fort Myers, Florida, charged FCS with participating in a criminal antitrust conspiracy with a competing oncology group in Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties (“Southwest Florida”). The government charged that 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 was alleged to have entered into an illegal agreement that allocated chemotherapy treatments to FCS and radiation treatments to a competing oncology group, which conspiracy allowed FCS to operate with minimal competition in Southwest Florida and limited valuable integrated care options and choices for cancer patients.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division announced a deferred prosecution agreement (“DPA”) resolving the charge against FCS, under which FCS 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.
FCS further agreed to 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.
In announcing the resolution of the criminal charge against FCS, an Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division stated, “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. 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.”
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