Attorney General Hardy Myers has obtained a default judgment from Washington County Circuit Court against Dr. Thomas Holeman of Milwaukie, one of two Oregon medical doctors named in a 2003 lawsuit filed by the Oregon Department of Justice. Myers' office sued Dr. Holeman and his partner, Dr. Steven Gabriel Moos (pronounced Moss) of Tigard, for allegedly violating state consumer protection laws in the unlawful sale and promotion of prescription drugs. Myers obtained a similar default judgment against Moos in June 2004 and both physicians are thought to have fled the country.
"Medical doctors who put economic gain before the safety of their patients should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," Myers said. "Both physicians violated the public trust and that could not be allowed to continue."
Named in last week's court order is Dr. Thomas Holeman, who practiced at Dr. Moos' Frontier Medical Clinic in Tigard. Both Holeman and Moos are now under similar Washington Court ordered default judgments that include permanent injunctions prohibiting them from being in the business of selling prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs, or nutritional supplements.
The 2003 Justice lawsuit, filed against both defendants, alleged that the physicians had violated state consumer protection laws by charging patients for prescription drugs that were actually free samples provided by drug manufacturers; and by prescribing and selling Human Growth Hormone (HGH) as a "harmless panacea for the effects of aging," when, in fact, the FDA has not found it to be safe and effective for that purpose. Moreover, the HGH sold was illegally imported from China and not approved for sale in the United States. The lawsuit also alleged that the doctors illegally advertised and sold "Viaglide," a product advertised as a female arousal cream over the Internet claiming it contained the same active ingredient found in Viagra when, in fact, it did not. The doctors sold "Viaglide" without prescriptions or without examining or taking medical histories from users.
The 2004 judgments also require the defendants to reimburse all purchasers of HGH, "Viaglide," and re-packaged "free" samples. Dr. Moos is required to pay the Justice $400,000 in civil penalties and more than $11,000 in costs. Dr. Holeman is required to pay Justice $300,000 in civil penalties and $16,426 in costs. Dr. Moos, who originated the fraudulent schemes, was assessed a larger civil penalty but Dr. Holeman, who aggressively fought for months to have the lawsuit dismissed, was assessed more in costs.
The Oregon Board of Medical Examiners (BME) initially referred the case to Oregon Justice. The BME had placed Dr. Moos on ten years of probation in 2000 for problems associated with advertising and selling prescription drugs over the Internet. The Board subsequently became aware of additional misconduct by Moos as a result of his criminal indictment in Washington County for unlawful drug use and a criminal investigation in California related to practicing medicine without a license.
Moos's medical license was permanently suspended by BME in April 2003. After Oregon's lawsuit was filed, Moos was federally indicted June 3, 2004 for criminal violations of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and subsequently left the United States. Dr. Holeman's medical license was revoked in October 2004 by the BME and his lawyer claims that he is traveling abroad in an unknown country.
Attorney General Myers praised the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigation for its "significant assistance" with the investigation leading up to the lawsuit and described the case outcome as "a perfect example of successful interagency cooperation." Oregon and the FDA are members of the International Interagency Health Products Fraud Steering Committee that promotes multi-agency cooperation in the prosecution of health fraud.
Consumers wanting more information on this case may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org