Welcome to Florida: Rick Scott Woos Cancer Treatment Business Accused of "Quackery"
With great fanfare, Gov. Rick Scott last month announced the latest trophy in his campaign to get corporate America to relocate to Florida. Infelicitously calling it a "one-way ticket to the Sunshine State," Scott hailed the Boca Raton arrival of Cancer Treatment Centers of America and the "more than 200 new jobs" the governor says it will create.
We've heard governors bloviate about biotech jobs before. Maybe this time will be different. Even if it is, there's reason to be queasy about Scott's latest BFF.
A privately held company with an estimated $4 billion in annual revenues, CTCA's founder and CEO, Richard Stephenson, is a Tea Party kingpin, funneling multiple millions of dollars to right-wing superPAC FreedomWorks, including a whopping $12 million in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election and another $8 million to orchestrate an internal coup at the group after the Romney defeat.
What could CTCA hope to gain from GOP control of the White House? One thing could be more lenient treatment from federal regulators. When Bill Clinton was in office, the Federal Trade Commission charged Stephenson's company with fraudulent advertising. The FTC alleged that:
CTCA's promotional brochure, which was disseminated nationwide, represented that the respondents had statistical evidence to demonstrate that their survivorship rate for cancer patients was among the highest recorded and that whole body hyperthermia could successfully treat certain forms of cancer that were previously unresponsive to conventional types of cancer treatment. In addition, the FTC alleged that the brochure had falsely claimed that whole body hyperthermia had been approved for the treatment of cancer by an independent agency or medical organization. According to the complaint, however, the respondents did not have adequate evidence to back up any of these claims. These claims do not appear in the brochure that CTCA currently provides to consumers.
The complaint also alleges that, through a print advertisement, respondents represented that, through a procedure identified as brachytheraphy, respondents were able to improve the chances of survival for many lung cancer patients. This representation was also not substantiated adequately, according to the complaint.
Finally, according to the FTC, the respondents represented, without a reasonable basis, that consumer testimonials featured in their ads reflected the typical experience of patients who had undergone treatment at the respondents' treatment centers.
To settle the case, CTCA agreed to monitoring by the feds to see that future ads would
"have competent and reliable evidence -- scientific in certain appropriate instances -- to support any representation."