State orders Tri-Cities researcher to stop acting like a doctor

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Medical professionals discuss 5 things you should know about clinical trials.

A Tri-Cities medical researcher has been ordered to stop acting in a doctor’s capacity with his two companies.

The state Department of Health notified Sami Anwar, 40, that its Unlicensed Practice Program was issuing a cease-and-desist order.

“Anwar allegedly has no physician license but, as chief executive officer of a medical center, interfered with clinical care, reviewed patient charts and instructed a physician assistant how to treat patients,” according to the health department.

Anwar has been locked up since November on multiple fraud charges.

He and his two Richland companies — Mid-Columbia Research and Zain Research — each face 47 felony counts in U.S. District Court.

A federal grand jury returned indictments last November for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, fraudulently obtaining controlled substances and furnishing false or fraudulent material information.

Anwar is accused of faking and falsifying human clinical drug trial data to line his own pockets.

Jailed without bail

He was arrested Nov. 8 and has been in the Benton County jail since then as a contract inmate without bail. He has argued unsuccessfully for release, asking to be placed on electronic home monitoring if he surrendered his passport and driver license.

Federal judges have ordered Anwar to stay behind bars based on his alleged repeated attempts to intimidate potential witnesses and former employees, including people he either knew or assumed were cooperating with law enforcement, according to court documents.

His telephone access from jail was limited to family members and current employees as needed, and in December a judge told Anwar to stop further clinical research activities and wind down existing activities, documents said.

At a hearing last month, defense attorney Gary Metro said it’s been difficult going through the voluminous files, most of which originated as paper only.

Metro also said that some paper documents are stored at Zain Research, off North Columbia Center Boulevard, and he’s had trouble getting access with Anwar in custody.

A jury trial is scheduled Nov. 4 before Senior Judge Ed Shea in the Federal Building in Richland.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.