A federal jury in Florida found that Millennium Laboratories' provision of free point-of-care testing cups to physicians violates federal Stark and Anti-Kickback laws. The jury awarded Ameritox $14.775 million in damages.
The jury rejected all counterclaims that Millennium brought against Ameritox.
Baltimore-based Ameritox sued Millennium Laboratories in April 2011, citing unfair competition for Millennium’s practice of providing physicians with free point-of-care test cups in order to secure their business. In deciding the key contested issue, the jury found that the provision of free point-of-care cups under a so-called "cup agreement" in exchange for business violates federal law.
According to evidence presented during trial, Millennium gave its customers at least 750,000 free point-of-care test cups through 2013 alone – amounting to millions of dollars in giveaways. For example, Millennium provided one Florida clinic over 8,000 free test cups, according to court documents. The evidence suggested, however, that Millennium would provide the free goods only if the physician sent Millennium the urine specimens and further agreed to have Millennium conduct a minimum number of tests on each specimen, thus driving up profits for Millennium.
"All Ameritox wanted was a level playing field and we’re pleased that the jury rejected Millennium’s practice of providing free point-of-care test cups to physicians," said Scott Walton, chief executive of Ameritox. "The ruling underscores our belief that the significant health-care challenges facing our country require steadfast adherence to the highest compliance standards, ethical business practices and quality of service."
In view of this Order, Ameritox believes that Millennium should cease these activities immediately.
The Stark Law as it applies to the healthcare space prohibits doctors from referring their Medicare and Medicaid patients to business entities with which the doctors have a financial relationship. The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits healthcare providers from knowingly and willfully offering payment to induce a doctor to refer a patient for services covered under Medicare or Medicaid.