A Springfield man and a Rockville, Md., physician with an office in McLean have both been indicted by a federal grand jury in a case of conspiracy that prosecutors say preyed on potentially terminally ill people who sought chemotherapy medications and were instead sold bogus non-FDA-approved drugs that were misbranded and likely did nothing to help them.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, seven arrests have so far been made in a coordinated operation spanning several states, related to the recent unsealing of a 17-count indictment and criminal complaint involving Gallant Pharma International Inc., an allegedly unlicensed company accused of distributing misbranded prescription drugs from its headquarters in Crystal City, and an office in Springfield.
Among the seven individuals arrested were Syed “Farhan” Huda, 38, of Arlington, Deeba Mallick, 36, of Arlington, Dr. Anoushirvan R. Sarraf, 47, of Rockville, and Robert J. Sparks, 30, of Springfield.
According to the indictment unsealed Aug. 7, Khan and Huda were principals of Gallant Pharma, which allegedly began illegally importing prescription drugs, including intravenous chemotherapy drugs, into the United States in or around August 2009.
According to the federal indictment, some of the bogus chemotherapy drugs were represented as legitimate medications for use in the treatment of myeloma bone marrow cancer for patients “who have already had several unsuccessful courses of treatment” as well as additional fake chemotherapy drugs used in the treatment of other forms of potentially fatal cancers.
According to federal court records, the company “generated at least $8.6 million from the sale of these misbranded drugs to doctors, medical practices and hospitals across the U.S.”
Prosecutors said Gallant Pharma represented itself as a “Canadian company” and told potential customers that it sold drugs from Canada. The indictment alleges, however, that Khan, with the assistance of Huda, Mallick and others, acquired drugs from other parts of the world, including India, Switzerland and Turkey. These drugs were allegedly not manufactured and packaged in accordance with FDA requirements and, in some cases, were not approved by the FDA for use in the United States.
The indictment states that Gallant Pharma imported the drugs with the assistance of co-conspirators in Canada and the United Kingdom, breaking large shipments into many small packages, mislabeling the contents of packages and addressing deliveries to Sarraf at his medical practice in McLean, in order to lessen scrutiny by Customs and Border Protection.
According to court records, Gallant Pharma allegedly initially operated out of the apartment of Huda and his wife, Mallick, in Crystal City, where Huda is alleged to have served as the day-to-day head of Gallant Pharma in the U.S. and Mallick had primary responsibility for processing sales invoices and customer payments.
Until June 2013, Gallant Pharma allegedly stored the misbranded drugs at an office in Springfield, where court records say Springfield resident Robert J. Sparks was approached by an undercover agent of the Office of Criminal Investigations of the FDA.
According to court records, Sparks “represented himself to be the head of the United States arm of Gallant Pharma, and admitted to his role in the sale of pharmaceutical drugs. …”
Sparks’ attorney, Dwight E. Crawley, declined to comment on behalf of his client. Attorneys for Huda, Mallick and Sarraf did not immediately return phone messages left for them.