The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute LLC (FCS) agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $100 million to resolve the charges filed against it.
FCS is one of the largest independent oncology groups in the United States. It is based in Fort Myers Florida.
The Justice Department sued FCS for allegedly conspiring to allocate medical and radiation treatments for cancer patients in Southwest Florida.
The DOJ alleged that FCS and a competing oncology group in Southwest Florida committed an illegal antitrust conspiracy. The two oncology groups entered into an agreement to not compete in providing chemotherapy and radiation treatments in Southwest Florida starting in early 1999 until at least 2016.
The illegal antitrust conspiracy allowed FCS to operate with minimal competition in Southwest Florida and limited valuable integrated care options and choices for cancer patients, according to the Justice Department.
FCS admitted its wrongdoing
FCS admitted to participating in an illegal antitrust conspiracy. The oncology group entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the DOJ’s Antitrust Division to resolve the one-count felony charge against it.
Under the DPA, FCS agreed to pay $100 million, the statutory maximum penalty for committing an antitrust crime, and to cooperate with the ongoing investigation of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division. The oncology group also agreed to maintain an effective compliance program to detect and prevent antitrust violations.
In addition, the DPA included a non-compete waiver to increase competition in the treatment of cancer patients in Southwest Florida. FCS agreed that it will not implement any non-compete provisions with its current or former oncologists who open or join an oncology practice in the area during the term of the DPA.
DOJ Antitrust Division will continue its investigation into FCS co-conspirators
In a statement, DOJ Antitrust Division Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said the DPA is “a significant step toward ensuring that cancer patients in Southwest Florida are afforded the benefits of competition for life-saving treatments.”
He added, “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.”