Washington Man Faces 28 Years in Prison for Fraudulent Drug Trial Scandal

prison bars

A 41-year-old man from Richland, Wash. was convicted on 47 counts of fraud and drug-related charges on Oct. 1, according to the U.S. Justice Department’s Eastern District of Washington. Sami Anwar was found guilty back in November of defrauding pharmaceutical companies by promising he would use their funding to help test potentially life-saving drugs. He now faces more than 28 years in federal prison, according to Yak Tri News.

Anwar’s crimes include wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy and fraudulently obtaining controlled substances. Between 2013 and 2018, he utilized the companies he created – Zain Research and Mid-Columbia Research – to pose as human clinical research trial sites. He then proceeded to provide fictitious data on the safety and efficacy of certain drugs to dozens of pharmaceutical companies.

Some of the conditions that Anwar was looking into “treating” with his drugs included heart disease, diabetes, asthma and cirrhosis.

"Every day, Americans rely on the data from clinical research trials to keep us safe from deadly diseases and dangerous side effects,” said U.S. Attorney William Hyslop. “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the vital ongoing clinical trials currently being conducted with regard to therapeutic treatments and vaccines, remind us every day how critical clinical research trials are and how important it is that that they be conducted honestly and reliably. Injecting fraudulent and corrupt data into the system is an egregious breach of the trust and faith that we all place in those who perform these vitally important trials. Based on the evidence presented at sentencing, and the jury’s unanimous verdict at trial, Mr. Anwar profited from his blatant disregard for patient safety by running his fraudulent enterprise through fear and intimidation."

The Department of Justice initially released information about Anwar and his dealings back in November 2019. The evidence at trial indicated that Anwar and his fraudulent companies received more than $5.6 million in the scandal. The 41-year-old would pose as a doctor and forge the signatures of doctors he employed. Additionally, more than a dozen former employees of Anwar testified that he directly instructed them to assist him in committing fraud.

Along with falsifying research data, Anwar led efforts to obtain blood specimens from his own employees, disposed of study medications by shooting them down the drain and dangerously hoarded opioids intended for study subjects.

Anwar allegedly engaged in threats, retaliation and intimidation tactics to hide his crimes from drug companies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and law enforcement.

In addition to his sentence, Anwar and his companies have been ordered to pay back more than $1.8 million in restitution to victims of the fraud. He and his companies must also forfeit more than $5.6 million as proceeds of the fraud, and Anwar is facing special penalty assessments of $24,300.

“I wish to especially commend the excellent work done by the investigative personnel with the Seattle and Spokane resident offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion Group,” Hyslop said. “Their exceptional investigative work made this result possible. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who continue to abuse this trust and undermine our health care system are brought to justice.”

Following the completion of his custodial sentence, Anwar will undergo three years of supervised release, with special conditions intact to protect his former employees and victims of the scandal.

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