HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pain Doctor's Pay Entered At Trial
Pubdate: Wed, 08 Dec 2004
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Copyright: 2004 Richmond Newspapers Inc.
Author: Paul Bradley


Hurwitz Earned Nearly $900,000 At Clinic Between 1999-2002

ALEXANDRIA - A prominent pain-management doctor accused of fueling a 
nationwide black market in illegal painkillers earned nearly $900,000 from 
1999 through 2002 before his McLean clinic was shut down, according to 
evidence presented at his trial.

Tax returns of Dr. William E. Hurwitz were entered into evidence yesterday 
as his six-week trial on a 62-count federal indictment neared an end in 
U.S. District Court. If convicted of the most serious charges, Hurwitz 
could be sentenced to life in prison.

Hurwitz took the stand in own defense on Monday and acknowledged that he 
prescribed massive amounts of painkillers to some patients. He insisted, 
however, that he always did so for sound medical reasons.

Yesterday, Hurwitz was subjected to an aggressive cross examination by 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gene Rossi, who was admonished several times by the 
judge to lower his voice when it reached shouting levels.

Authorities allege that Hurwitz knew or should have known that many of his 
patients were abusing his prescriptions, selling pills on the street or 
trading them for illicit drugs such as cocaine.

Blamed for overdose deaths They also charge that two patients who came to 
him seeking legitimate pain treatment were prescribed such massive amounts 
of drugs that he is to blame for their overdose deaths.

Hurwitz's lawyers contend those patients died of other causes. They 
acknowledge that at times Hurwitz prescribed massive amounts of opiates to 
the patients enrolled in his clinic, but say it was part of an emerging 
medical trend that encourages high-dosage opiate treatment for pain management.

Under Rossi's questioning, Hurwitz admitted that after one patient in his 
care died, he called family members and asked them to flush the woman's 
prescription medications down the toilet.

He also acknowledged that one of his patients was arrested on drug charges 
just hours after the doctor had written him prescriptions for hundreds of 
pills. The patient was found passed out inside his car, which was littered 
with open syringes, according to testimony.

Charges from federal probe Hurwitz testified that his goal was always to 
help patients in chronic pain who came to him as a last resort. Though he 
said he dealt firmly with drug abusers, he added that drug addiction should 
not preclude patients from getting treatment for legitimate pain.

"I terminated some patients I believed were beyond help," he said. "I 
continued to treat others under the threat of termination."

The charges against Hurwitz stem from a federal investigation into doctors, 
pharmacists and patients who allegedly marketed in potent prescription 
drugs, including OxyContin, a widely abused and highly addictive painkiller.

Hurwitz, who earned a reputation as an unconventional pioneer in the use of 
potent drugs to combat chronic pain, has run afoul of authorities before. 
His license to practice medicine has been suspended five times in Virginia, 
Maryland and Washington over the past several years. The Virginia Board of 
Medicine has placed him on probation for improperly treating several pain 

He treated nearly 500 patients from 39 states from the late 1990s to 2002, 
receiving a $1,000 initiation fee and monthly fees of up to $250 for each 
patient enrolled in the practice, according to the indictment.

Much of the evidence presented at his trial came from former patients who 
struck plea deals and testified against him. The case could go to the jury 
as early as today.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth