Doctor Sentenced for Healthcare Fraud, Accepting Kickbacks to Prescribe Highly Addictive Version of Fentanyl
PROVIDENCE, RI — Dr. Jerrold N. Rosenberg, 63 of Warren, the operator of a now-defunct pain management practice in Rhode Island, was sentenced today to 51 months in federal prison for committing healthcare fraud and for conspiring to solicit and receive kickbacks in return for prescribing the drug Subsys, a fast-acting, powerful, and highly-addictive version of the opioid drug Fentanyl.
Subsys is manufactured by Arizona based company Insys Therapeutics, Inc. (“Insys”). This under-the-tongue spray was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012 exclusively for “the management of breakthrough cancer pain in patients who are already receiving and who are already tolerant of opioid therapy for their underlying persistent cancer pain.” As a result, many insurance companies require a diagnosis of breakthrough cancer pain before approving coverage of the drug, which costs approximately $2,000 to over $16,000 for a thirty day supply.
At today’s sentencing hearing, three former patients of Dr. Rosenberg testified about the severe and debilitating effects they experienced from taking Subsys. Some witnesses testified to the doctor’s indifference to their complaints and pleas to be taken off Subsys.
Rosenberg pleaded guilty on October 25, 2017, to healthcare fraud and conspiracy to receive kickbacks. At the time of his guilty plea, Rosenberg admitted to the Court that between 2012 and 2015, he carried out a healthcare fraud scheme in which he made false representations to insurers, both private and government funded, claiming patients met the insurance criteria of having breakthrough cancer pain when he knew that they in fact did not, in order to secure approvals and payment for prescriptions of Subsys. Rosenberg admitted that, in total, the healthcare fraud scheme resulted in losses of over $750,000; in many cases, the cost of the drug was reimbursed, at least in part, by the Medicare program.
Additionally, Rosenberg admitted that, between 2012 and 2015, he conspired with Insys officials to receive kickbacks, in the form of purported speaker fees, from the manufacturer of the spray. Rosenberg admitted that he accepted these payments, which totaled over $188,000. In addition, according to court documents, Rosenberg’s son was a sales representative for Insys Therapeutics from June 2012 – September 2013, and made substantial amounts in commissions as a result of the defendant’s prescribing Subsys to his patients. Rosenberg admitted that the speaking fees he received from Insys were a significant motivating factor in his decision to prescribe Subsys to his patients.
The U.S. Sentencing guideline range of imprisonment in this matter is 51-63 months. The government recommended the court impose a sentence of 63 months incarceration. At sentencing, the Court also ordered Rosenberg to pay restitution in the amount of $754,736.48 to the Medicare program. Rosenberg’s sentence, imposed by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., is announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Stephen G. Dambruch; Phillip Coyne, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Boston Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG); and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee H. Vilker and Zachary A. Cunha.
The matter was investigated by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud and Patient Abuse Unit.