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Health News Florida

Cancer Centers Come With Baggage

Late last month, Gov. Rick Scott trumpeted an announcement that Cancer Treatment Centers of America would be moving its headquarters to Boca Raton.  State and local taxpayers paid CTCA millions to move 225 jobs to Florida.

But nowhere in the press release did it mention that the for-profit hospital company has engaged in questionable marketing, as  Broward Palm Beach New Times notes. The Federal Trade Commission has had the company under scrutiny since 1996, when FTC accused it of making claims about its outcomes that weren't justified.

Without admitting any of the allegations, CTCA entered into a consent decree with the FTC and agreed not to make unsubstantiated claims about patient outcomes. The company also said it would put in place a "robust compliance program."

Last March, reporters from Reuters disclosed that the survival rates that CTCA was touting on its website were skewed because the company did not include patients who had already tried treatments elsewhere before arriving at CTCA. That group would be expected to have a poorer prognosis, since they were turning to CTCA as a last resort. 

The Reuters story drew from analyses by a number of cancer and data experts, some of whom questioned whether the centers charged desperate patients for unproven treatments that bordered on "quackery."

The company defended its practices, as Reuters reported, quoting spokeswoman Pamela Browner White as saying CTCA's survival data are in "no way misleading, nor do they deviate from best practices in statistical collection and analysis."

As the New Times reports, the founder and CEO of the $4-billion company has been donating millions of dollars to the conservative super PAC FreedomWorks, including $12 million to influence the 2012 presidential election. 

The economic development package used to lure the company was $2.375 million, the South Florida Business Journal reported.