Until very recently a 50-page federal whistleblower lawsuit, against two of the nation’s largest cancer-care providers, has been under seal and kept from the public eye. But it’s now been made public and it doesn’t look good.
“According to the lawsuit, Florida Cancer Specialists and 21st Century Oncology paid ‘millions of dollars to each other in the form of exclusive patient referrals in order to secure their individual monopolies in Southwest Florida of medical oncology (Florida Cancer Specialists) and radiation oncology (21st Century Oncology).'”1
The lawsuit also claims:2
- Florida Cancer Specialists used under-trained medical assistants to service patients’ surgically implanted catheters (used to administer meds)
- That Feraheme, an expensive intravenous prescription drug used to treat iron-deficiency anemia in adults with chronic kidney disease, was administered to some patients who did not need it.
- And that company leadership knew that the drug was being unnecessarily prescribed but encouraged it for years.
- Schemes like this were possible thanks to Medicare reimbursement rates for the drugs and the discounts the company received from drug suppliers.
The lawsuit was brought two women, “Sharon Dill, Florida Cancer Specialists vice president for human resources and chief human resources officer between 2012 and 2015; and Christina Sievert, the company’s vice president of clinical financial services between 2013 and 2015”3, who say they were fired unjustly (disability and gender discrimination, respectively).
At this point, the Department of Justice has decided not to intervene.
On the Gulf Coast, Florida Cancer Specialists has centers from Tampa Bay to Naples. And 21 Century Oncology, who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May and has already settled two federal investigations into fraudulent billing, for $54.5 million, operates 179 treatment centers- 143 of which are in 17 U.S. states and another 36 centers in seven Latin American countries.
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We assume more suits will follow now that this information has been made public. We will update you as more information becomes available.