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Quest Diagnostics Sued by United Allergy Services

NEW YORK (360DX) – Texas-based United Allergy Services filed suit against Quest Diagnostics late last month, accusing the lab giant of conspiring with other market players to eliminate lower-priced competition.

The allergy company alleges that Quest and co-conspirators have cost the company $200 million in lost profits. Specifically, the suit alleges that Quest and other players in the industry convinced insurers and potential UAS customers that doing business with UAS "caused medical, legal and other risks."

UAS provides allergy testing and allergen immunotherapy primarily related to rhinitis, or hay fever, through providing support services for physicians, according to the suit.

Quest's alleged co-conspirators, according to the suit, include Thermo Fisher Scientific and its Phadia allergy and immunodiagnostics business, along with some allergy industry associations. Those companies and organizations were sued by UAS in a lawsuit that was originally filed in 2014. That suit was dismissed with prejudice on Friday, according to court documents. The terms of that dismissal were unclear, and attorneys for both the plaintiffs and defendants could not be reached for comment. It is also unclear why Quest was sued separately and was not included in the original lawsuit.

The Quest lawsuit was filed by UAS as well as by the Academy of Allergy & Asthma in Primary Care, which is a non-profit with more than 250 member physicians, according to the suit. UAS is a sponsor of AAAPC, the marketing manager of UAS, who is also the communications director for AAAPC, said in an email.

Meanwhile, UAS itself is facing a false claims act suit, filed by Terri Nix, a former business development representative at the company. That suit alleges that UAS fraudulently billed Medicare in the name of physicians, even though the UAS model uses non-physicians to independently provide allergy services. The suit also alleges that UAS overbilled Medicare, billing multiple times for the same service. Allergy technicians at UAS are given goals or quotas of the number of services per month they are expected to meet, according to the suit.

In the false claims suit against UAS, the US government and 22 states are co-plaintiffs and multiple physician offices and physicians are co-defendants. The suit, which was filed in 2016 in the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, where Nix lives and worked, is currently stayed pending the appeal of the dismissal of a separate false claims act lawsuit against UAS in Texas, which was appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, according to an attorney for Nix.

Quest declined to comment on pending legislation. The spokesperson for UAS and AAAPC referred questions to an attorney, who could not be reached for comment.