Pennsylvania physician gets 20 years in prison, $4M fine for pill mill

Internal and pain medicine physician Andrew Berkowitz, MD, was sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for running a prescription "pill mill" from his practice, the Justice Department said May 10.

Dr. Berkowitz was also ordered to pay $4 million in restitution and a $40,000 fine, and forfeit $3.4 million and four real estate properties, the department said.

He ran the pill mill from his Philadelphia practice, A+ Pain Management, the department said. At every visit, patients received a "goodie bag" filled with prescription drugs with no medical necessity and regardless of what the patient sought treatment for. The bags typically included muscle relaxers and controlled substances.

Dr. Berkowitz submitted pharmacy claims for the drugs through his company Bucks Philadelphia Medical Group, the department said. He received payments from insurers of more than $4,000 for each bag.

He also prescribed oxycodone to pill-seeking patients in exchange for their agreement to have excessive claims submitted to their insurers. Through the schemes, Dr. Berkowitz received more than an estimated $4 million from 2015 to 2018.

He is permanently prohibited from prescribing, distributing or dispensing controlled substances, the department said. He is also subject to a civil judgment to pay about $1.8 million for false claims submitted to Medicare.

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