Richland doctor accused of fraud, illegally obtaining narcotics

RICHLAND, Wash. - A Richland doctor and his research laboratory are facing federal charges for fraudulently obtaining $274,642 in funding for non-existent opioid addiction research trials.

Sami Anwar and his companies Mid-Columbia Research and Zain Research have received a 47-count federal indictment for conducting fraudulent drug trials that claimed to be studying an alternative treatment for daily opioid users, according to the US District Court of the Eastern District of Washington. 

Between July 2016 and January 2018, the defendants allegedly forged physician signatures and falsified medical records and other documentation to make it appear as if a licensed physician had determined the subjects were eligible for the study.

The District Court claims that they falsified records and study data to make it appear as though the subjects were receiving experimental treatment when they were not, in order to falsely obtain over a quarter of a million dollars from the drug company sponsoring the study. 

The defendants allegedly created false documentation to hide fraud from the sponsor, monitors and federal regulators. 

The charges alleged that the defendants fraudulently obtained controlled substances, including Vicodin and morphine, by falsely showing the drugs would be used for legitimate research purposes when they were not. 

Finally, Anwar and his companies are accused of submitting a false and fraudulent application to the DEA in a failed attempt to obtain Gamma Hydroxybutyrate or “GHB,” commonly known as a date rape drug, for a separate sleep disorder study the defendants hoped to gain funding for. 

They are being charged with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, fraudulently obtaining controlled substances and furnishing false information to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The conspiracy, mail and wire fraud charges against Anwar each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or double gross gain or gross loss – whichever is greater.

A federal judge issued a warrant to seize over $175,000 from one of Anwar’s bank accounts believed to be some of the proceeds of the alleged fraud.

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