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US Oncologist Pleads Guilty in Cancer Treatment Price Conspiracy

 |  August 28, 2023

A former president and managing partner of Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS), who also served as a medical oncologist, has admitted guilt in a recent development. The individual, Dr. William Harwin, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge involving the allocation of oncology treatments for cancer patients in the Southwest Florida region.

Legal documents submitted to the U.S. District Court in Ft. Myers, Florida, revealed that Dr. Harwin was part of a conspiracy that spanned from 1999 to September 2016. The objective of this scheme was to stifle competition by coordinating the allocation of chemotherapy treatments for cancer patients to FCS and assigning radiation treatments to a different oncology company. The geographical focus of this arrangement covered Lee, Collier, and Charlotte Counties.

Dr. Harwin admitted to violating Section One of the Sherman Act by pleading guilty to the single count brought against him. The process of determining his sentencing will occur at a later date as determined by the court. A federal district court judge will decide on the appropriate sentence after taking into account various factors, including the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other legal considerations.

Acting Director of Criminal Enforcement Emma Burnham, representing the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, emphasized the detrimental impact of this lengthy criminal conspiracy on cancer patients. Burnham stated, “This long-running criminal conspiracy denied cancer patients access to a competitive marketplace for lifesaving oncology treatments.” She emphasized the department’s dedication to prosecuting healthcare providers who prioritize financial gains over patient well-being.

Special Agent in Charge David Walker of the FBI Tampa Field Office echoed this sentiment, asserting the FBI’s commitment to safeguarding patient care and preserving the integrity of the healthcare system. Walker asserted, “The FBI will not stand by and allow those trusted with saving lives to manipulate the health care system for their own benefit.”

In a parallel development, FCS faced legal consequences in April 2020 for its involvement in the same conspiracy. The company entered into a deferred prosecution agreement that led to the resolution of charges against it. As part of the agreement, FCS admitted to conspiring to allocate chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer patients. The terms of the agreement required FCS to pay a $100 million criminal penalty and fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation led by the Antitrust Division.

Source: Justice Gov