Richland labs charged for laundry list of offenses in fake opioid trial
The U.S. Attorney’s office indicted two companies out of Richland, Washington for a laundry list of offenses related to a lab conducting a false drug trial.
The charges claim that between 2016 and 2018, the labs conducted a drug trial that they claimed would study an experimental treatment for opioid users suffering from chronic pain.
Allegedly, the saga went as follows:
The labs enrolled ineligible subjects for a fake drug trial, and forged physician signatures and medical records to make it look as though a doctor had approved the participants.
The labs falsified records and data to make it look like the subjects were participating in the study and receiving treatment (they weren’t). They did this in order to obtain over $250,000 from the drug company sponsoring the study.
To cover this up from the sponsor and federal regulators, the labs created additional false documentation of the study.
The labs then fraudulently obtained Vicodin and morphine, claiming that the drugs were a necessity to the fake trial.
The final charge in the indictment alleges that the labs submitted a fraudulent application to the DEA in a failed attempt to get their hands on GHB, commonly known as the “date rape drug.” The labs claimed that the drug was for a separate sleep disorder study that they were looking to get funded.
In total, the two companies indicted made over $274,000 spanning the two years they were conducting the trial.
“Conducting legitimate research is the foundation in which modern medicine is built on,” DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Pacific Northwest Weis said in a news release. “To exploit that under the false premise of conducting lifesaving research to aid those who suffer opioid dependency is appalling, illegal, and criminal.”
The two Richland-based companies, Mid Columbia Research LLC and Zain Research LLC, and their owner Sami Anwar, face 47 total counts in the federal indictment.
Anwar has experience as a clinical research director dating back to 2011. He assumed control of Mid Columbia Research as CEO in 2013, and became president of Zain Research in 2015.
If convicted, Anwar would be staring down a 20-year prison sentence, a $250,000 fine or “double the gross gain or gross loss, whichever is greater,” a three-year term of court supervision, and restitution to boot.