Oncology Provider Is Subject to $100 Million Criminal Antitrust Penalty
On April 30, 2020, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued a press release announcing a deferred prosecution agreement with a major oncology practice in Florida. As a condition of the deferred prosecution, the oncology group admitted to participating in a criminal conspiracy to allocate cancer treatment services, agreed to pay a $100 million criminal penalty (the maximum penalty), and agreed to participate and cooperate in further investigations.
According to the deferred prosecution agreement, the oncology practice violated antitrust laws by agreeing with another oncology practice to allocate services, i.e., engaging in market allocation activities. Specifically, the deferred prosecution agreement states that the two practices agreed amongst themselves that medical oncology would be done by one practice, whereas radiation oncology would be performed by the other practice. A naked agreement to allocate markets is a per se violation of the antitrust laws.
The enforcement action by DOJ is a reminder to health care providers to monitor interactions with competitors, particularly when those interactions impact the provision of services or resource allocation by the providers.