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Baltimore County physician’s assistant sentenced for inappropriately prescribing painkillers

A physician’s assistant from Pennsylvania will serve three years and one month in federal prison for his role in inappropriately prescribing opioids to patients at a pair of Baltimore County pain clinics.

William Soyke, 68, pleaded guilty in July 2019 to one count of conspiracy to distribute and dispense oxycodone, fentanyl, methadone, and alprazolam outside the scope of professional practice.

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U.S District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett handed down the prison sentence Wednesday, tacking on three years of supervised release.

Attorneys for Soyke did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment.

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Soyke worked for seven years at the Towson and Owings Mills offices of the Rosen Hoffberg Rehabilitation and Pain Management, which was shut down in February of 2018, according to his plea agreement.

As a physician’s assistant, he could prescribe opioids under a delegation agreement with the doctors.

Soyke admitted knowing many of the patients didn’t need the addictive painkillers, but that he continued to fill their prescriptions, according to his plea agreement.

He saw about 35 patients daily, his plea states. Before customers arrived, medical assistants would fill out their prescriptions based on their previous regimens; all Soyke had to do was sign the paper.

One of the doctors Soyke worked under, Howard J. Hoffberg, part-owner of the pain practice, pleaded guilty in June to accepting kickbacks from an Arizona-based pharmaceutical company.

Hoffberg admitted taking money from the company, Insys Therapeautics, to prescribe Subsys, a fentanyl spray. Insys’ founder, John Kapoor, was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in federal prison for a racketeering conspiracy. The pharmaceutical company reached a $225 settlement with the Department of Justice to resolve federal authorities’ criminal and civil investigations.

The other owner of the Baltimore County pain clinic has not been charged with a crime, said Marcia Murphy, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland.

Soyke’s plea detailed that the doctors he worked under started patients with “excessive” doses of opioids. After initial visits with the doctors, the patients saw Soyke.

And, while Soyke sometimes chose to lower a patient’s dosage, his decision would be overruled by the doctors, according to the plea.

It neglected, like other pain clinics, to impose a policy that would reject patients after they tested positive for illicit drugs including heroin and cocaine, or discharge customers who overdosed or who were accused of selling their pills, Soyke’s plea detailed.

He believed the practice was more interested in retaining customers than properly administering the addictive medications, according to his plea. But he continued to work there and saw more patients than any other provider at the practice, according to his plea.

Soyke’s plea also said he subjected female patients to sexual contact while putting the women through a “range of motion test.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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