BALTIMORE, MD—The director of a Towson pain management clinic has been sentenced for conspiracy to distribute and dispense oxycodone.
U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III on Tuesday sentenced Norman Rosen, 84, of Towson, to four months of home detention as part of 18 months of probation, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and dispense oxycodone in connection with his operation of Rosen-Hoffberg Rehabilitation and Pain Management Associates, P.A., where he was Medical Director and part owner.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Jarod Forget of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Washington Division; Special Agent in Charge Maureen Dixon, Office of Investigations, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG); and Acting Chief Dennis J. Delp of the Baltimore County Police Department.
According to his guilty plea, Norman Rosen is a doctor and was licensed to practice medicine in the State of Maryland. He served as the Medical Director and part-owner of Rosen-Hoffberg Rehabilitation and Pain Management (the “Practice”). Rosen primarily worked at the practice’s Towson locations. Rosen’s partner in the business and the Practice’s Associate Medical Director was Howard Hoffberg.
According to Rosen’s guilty plea, patients at the practice were often prescribed high doses of oxycodone, and other opioid medications. Some patients were issued prescriptions for opioids after routinely providing aberrant urine toxicology screens, including positive results for cocaine and heroin; positive results for controlled substances that were not prescribed by the practice; and/or negative results for the controlled substances prescribed by the practice. Rosen knew that the Practice received complaints about the behavior of patients, including reports of suspected drug transactions in the parking lots near the practice. At times, patients were observed “nodding out” in the waiting area of the practice. Some patients tried to bring in urine that was not theirs in order to pass urine toxicology screens. Some patients of the practice overdosed and some of these patients required hospitalization and some died. Several major pharmacies refused to fill any prescriptions issued by the practice because of the high doses being prescribed. Both Rosen and Hoffberg were aware of the conditions at the practice and yet continued to prescribe medications to these patients.
As detailed in his plea agreement, as the Medical Director, Dr. Rosen established the rules for the practice. One of his rules was that the customer, i.e. the patient, is always right. Sometimes, when other providers at the practice discharged certain patients, Rosen continued to treat the patients at the Towson location. At times, if a patient failed a urine toxicology screen because of illicit substances in their system such as heroin or cocaine, Rosen declined to discharge the patient and instead required the patient to return to the Practice more frequently for follow-up, sometimes as much as three times a week.
Rosen admitted that he issued prescriptions to some patients outside the bounds of the usual medical practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. For example, Rosen prescribed large doses of oxycodone and clonazepam to a patient who had eight toxicology screens that were positive for cocaine and whose children had been taken from her because of her drug problems. Similarly, Rosen ignored the red flags and prescribed oxycodone and methadone to a patient who admitted to illicit drug use; had previously been criminally charged for prescription fraud and drug trafficking; had overdosed; had urine toxicology screens that were positive for heroin, cocaine, and marijuana; and had been accused of selling her pills.
In related cases, Rosen’s partner, Howard Hoffberg, 66, of Reisterstown, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statutes, in connection with a scheme to accept payments from a pharmaceutical company in exchange for prescribing a fentanyl-based drug. He was sentenced to eight months in federal prison. Also, a physician’s assistant at the practice, William Soyke, 69, of Hanover, Pennsylvania, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and dispense oxycodone, fentanyl, methadone, and alprazolam and was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison.