Doctor charged with pushing painkiller, receiving kickbacks

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A doctor has been indicted on charges accusing him of getting kickbacks on prescriptions of a highly addictive painkiller written for patients who didn’t need the drug.

Jerrold Rosenberg, a pain specialist and clinical assistant professor at Brown University, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence on Thursday.

He’s the latest person to be caught up in a federal investigation in multiple states surrounding Arizona-based drug manufacturer Insys Therapeutics.

Former Insys executives are accused of leading a nationwide conspiracy to bribe doctors to prescribe large amounts of the company’s fentanyl spray and defraud insurers. They’ve pleaded not guilty in Massachusetts.

Insys couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The spray, called Subsys, is a potent opioid used to manage flares of severe pain in adults with cancer.

Prosecutors say Rosenberg prescribed the spray to patients who didn’t have cancer, increased the dosage, refused patients’ requests to switch drugs when they suffered debilitating side effects and submitted fraudulent requests for the spray, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses to Medicare and private insurers.

Rosenberg was one of the top prescribers of the spray in the nation, the indictment says.

In turn, it says, the company paid Rosenberg about $180,000 in fees to speak about the spray. Many of the speaking events were “sham” programs held at expensive restaurants with no other medical professionals in attendance, according to the indictment.

His son earned commissions from the prescriptions as an Insys sales representative, the indictment says.

Rosenberg is charged with health care fraud, conspiracy and receiving kickbacks. He was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond, and his attorney declined to comment after the arraignment.

Rosenberg had a practice in Providence, which he moved to North Providence in 2015.

The court didn’t restrict Rosenberg’s medical license. The state Department of Health says it’s looking into the matter and will ensure it goes through the normal process for determining whether an investigation will be opened.

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