The owner of two Richland research companies faces a long list of charges in federal court after he allegedly faked and falsified clinical drug trial data to line his own pockets.
And federal prosecutors want Sami Anwar to stay behind bars while he awaits his day in court, saying he’s repeatedly tried to intimidate witnesses and is a significant risk to flee the country.
Anwar was arrested Thursday and made his first appearance on the charges in U.S. District Court at the Federal Building in Richland.
A hearing on his detention is set for Friday.
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Scott Johnson, Anwar’s attorney, said his client cooperated with investigators. “We’re disappointed the government moved ahead despite a lack of solid evidence,” he said.
Joseph H. Harrington, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington, announced the 47-count indictment on Thursday, saying in a statement that “’investigating fraud and opioid-related crimes is a top priority for the Department of Justice” and his office will ”continue to use all of the investigative and legal tools available to us to do so.”
The indictment names Anwar and two of his companies, Mid-Columbia Research and Zain Research, which both are housed in the same building off North Columbia Center Boulevard.
It alleges that he and his company “devised, perpetrated and carried out a scheme and artifice designed to enrich themselves financially by falsifying research data for human clinical trials, including a clinical trial for a medical study designed to prevent and lower opioid use and addiction.”
That included, according to Harrington’s office and court documents:
▪ Forging and falsifying documents to make it look like the study was being performed by a licensed doctor and falsifying medical records and data to admit dozens of ineligible patients, including employees and family members.
▪ Falsifying records to make it look like subjects were participating and receiving treatment when they weren’t in order to bill for the study and get $250,000-plus from the drug company sponsoring it.
▪ Creating false documents to hide the fraud.
▪ Fraudulently obtaining controlled substances, including hydrocodone/acetaminophen and morphine, by saying they were and would be used for research, when they weren’t.
▪ Submitting a fraudulent application to the DEA in an attempt to get gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, for a separate study for which they hoped to get funding.
In a 34-page motion to keep him jailed, prosecutors argued he should remain behind bars pending trial, saying he’s threatened and harassed witnesses, poses a risk to patients and the public, and is at risk to leave the country.
He is originally from Pakistan, where he attended medical school, and became a U.S. citizen in 2012. He’s not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S.