Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) announced a new $16 million state-of-the-art facility in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, to house an advanced cancer center. The 10,820 square-foot center will include 38 chemotherapy chairs, 10 examination rooms, fixed imaging suite including a Siemens PET/CT unit and will offer access to clinical trials. As it turns out, they are one of the most influential cancer research site operations in America.
Who is Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS)?
Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) was founded in 1984 and represents the largest independent medical oncology/hematology practice in the United States, according to claims on their website. With over 230 physicians, 200 nurse practitioners and physician assistants and nearly 100 locations in their network, they are committed to offering world-class cancer care in community-based settings. FCS serves patients in the Gulf Coast—from Naples to Tallahassee, Central Florida and on the East Coast from Palm Beach County to Jacksonville.
FCS is recognized by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), recently with a national Clinical Trials Participation Award. They declare on their website that they offer more clinical trials than any private oncology practice in Florida. They have been at the forefront of the clinical research as a care option—an important offering for oncology practices as there have been many ground-breaking advancements in cancer therapy over the last several years—many still experimental but with solid evidence for efficacy and safety.
Because of this commitment to cancer research as a care option, their patients have access to ground-breaking therapies in both the community setting and many of their patients have participated in national clinical research studies of drugs and treatment protocols. In the past four years, they share that the majority of new cancer drugs approved for use in the U.S. were studied in clinical trials with FCS. In fact, they report nationwide 84% of new cancer drugs approved in 2016 for use in the U.S. were studied in clinical trials conducted with FCS participation prior to approval.
Sarah Cannon Partnership
FCS’ Drug Development Unit includes the clinical research infrastructure of Sarah Cannon. Based on their partnership with Sarah Cannon, they have positioned their operation as one of the largest clinical research organizations in the United States. Sarah Cannon conducts community-based clinical trials with an emphasis on oncology. They have conducted thousands of clinical trials, and in the past have won awards from Modern Healthcare as one of the 100 Best Places to Work in Healthcare. Sarah Cannon is the cancer institute of HCA—a major health system.
Site Watch: Any Observations and Controversy
TrialSite News represents an independent healthcare revolution. Things are becoming more patient-centered, and we celebrate the good works of biopharmaceutical companies, research centers and sites—and importantly, investigators—after all, if not for the investment, talent and brilliance of these efforts, medical breakthroughs wouldn’t occur. On the other hand, a patient revolution is in the making. Value-based care drives the need for transparency and informed and educated consumers of healthcare. After all, at least in America healthcare represents a complicated market of products and services—guided by a labyrinth of regulations and compliance requirements and for the average patient an unacceptable amount of bureaucratic and administrative ramparts, price and cost concealment and compartmentalization of medical knowledge. The patient as the nexus is coming.
FCS and 21st Century Oncology were accused of engaging in an illegal “gentleman’s agreement” to divvy up oncology-based treatment services in the State of Florida. Advanced by a whistleblower, a range of eye brow-raising allegations were leveled against the providers from fraudulent Medicare billing to unsafe medical practices as well. In the settlement, the parties have denied any wrong doing and the plaintiffs have accepted such position. The lawsuit was originated by Sharon Dill, Florida Cancer Specialists vice president for human resources and chief human resources officer between 2012 and 2015, and Christina Sievert, the company’s vice president of clinical financial services between 2013 and 2015.
Patients Understand Risks
Regardless of the cancer center, TrialSite News suggests that patients carefully scrutinize any claims of testimonials featuring patients with cancer types that have less than a 50% five-year survival rate, which are used in direct-to-consumer marketing materials to advance the narrative, whether explicit or implicit, that a specific center and treatment will offer the patient a therapeutic advantage to beat the true scientific odds. All of the risks of a clinical trial, for example, must be understood by the educated and empowered patient.
Rational for SiteWatch Leading
Rarely does a growing successful company not run into conflict—some by its own doing and some caused by external forces. FCS is not immune from these very human-driven forces. Overall, they have built one of the most formidable cancer research operations in the United States, outside of a major academic, NCI-designated center—hence why they get included in SiteWatch Leading. FCS has accumulated an extraordinary amount of experience and expertise with cancer-based clinical research, which cannot be ignored or denied due to various incidents in the past.
Lead Research/Investigators at FCS
Call to Action: If you or a loved one are diagnosed with cancer, consider FCS in Florida. As with any advanced medical service, ensure you have multiple opinions and understand the risks and benefits of the different options.