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Health News Florida

Biz: WellCare, Endo, Watson Clinic

The ripples that followed the ouster of WellCare Health Plans’ CEO in October had barely calmed when the company announced Monday that the chief financial officer is also being let go.

In a filing with the SEC and press release, WellCare said that CFO and Senior Vice President Thomas Tran would be leaving “to pursue other opportunities.”  The company said Tran would remain at WellCare until a successor is appointed or Nov. 30, whichever comes first. 

David Gallitano, WellCare’s chairman since May, is serving as interim CEO since the departure of former CEO Alec Cunningham. Gallitano said he is not a candidate for the job. As the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, Gallitano said the board was looking for a chief executive who is “more strategic” and can handle a large company in a complex industry.

Cunningham, who left immediately, received more than $3 million in severance. Tran will continue to be paid through the end of November, plus a bonus of $1 million when he leaves. 

WellCare, with $10 billion in annual revenue, provides managed care for Medicare and Medicaid patients in many parts of the country, as well as Medicare drug plans.

In other Florida business news:

A Tampa law firm has won a whistleblower settlement of $193 million from Endo Health Solutions and its subsidiary Endo Pharmaceuticals. Florida  will receive about $1.9 million of that, according to the James Hoyer Law Firm.  

The whistleblower, Peggy Ryan of upstate New York, was a star Endo sales rep when the company brought out its Lidoderm patch for herpetic neuralgia, a relatively rare condition that affects an estimated 200,000 patients a year.

The company pressured her to sell the drug for off-label uses to boost sales, Ryan told the FBI in 2005. She agreed to wear a wire, recording hundreds of hours of conversations with her supervisors.

Chris Hoyer, founding partner of the James Hoyer firm, called Ryan “a tireless advocate for the taxpayer.”

Under the False Claims Act, Ryan will receive a portion of the recovered funds. The amount that goes to whistleblowers varies, but is usually around 15 percent.

In other news, Watson Clinic, one of the largest multi-specialty medical clinics in the Southeast, has formally joined the Moffitt Oncology Network, Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa announced on Tuesday. Watson, based in Lakeland, has around 220 board-certified physicians practicing 40 specialties in 20 locations, the release said.

The network enables patients in many locations to gain convenient access to advanced research and “personalized medicine,” in which a genetic analysis is performed on tissue from the patient’s tumor so that the most effective treatment can be given.

The Moffitt Network includes Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pa.; Norton Cancer Institute in Louisville, Ky.; Lynn Cancer Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital; Space Coast Cancer Center; and Florida Cancer Affiliates in New Port Richey and Ocala.