Utah drug company CEO charged with purchasing mislabeled hydroxychloroquine

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(John Locher, AP Photo, File)

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SALT LAKE CITY — The CEO of a Utah pharmaceutical company has been charged in federal court with buying a large amount of mislabeled hydroxychloroquine from China early in the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic.

Daniel Kevin Richards, founder and CEO of Draper-based pharmacy Meds in Motion, was charged Monday in U.S. District Court in Utah with one count of receiving misbranded drugs in interstate commerce, a misdemeanor, according to court documents.

The charges allege Richards received over 500 kilograms of hydroxychloroquine and 50 kilograms of chloroquine on April 8. The drugs came from China and were labeled as "Boswellia Serrata Extract," according to charges.

The charges further allege that the drugs were then manufactured or processed in a facility that wasn't registered as a drug manufacturer with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Richards also proffered a deal to sell the drugs, charges allege.

Richards's attorney declined to comment about the case Tuesday. An email to Meds in Motion requesting a comment about the case was not immediately answered Tuesday. Representatives from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah and the Utah Department of Health also declined to comment on the case.

Meds In Motion was the subject of a controversial $800,000 purchase of hydroxychloroquine from the state of Utah in the spring of 2020, though it's not clear if the Monday charges relate to that contract.

In April, it was revealed that the Governor's Office of Management and Budget agreed to purchase up to 200,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine from Meds in Motion. The state was subsequently refunded the money after the contract was heavily criticized.

Hydroxychloroquine, a malaria treatment drug, was thought to be a possible effective treatment for COVID-19 earlier on in the pandemic. It's since been proven not to be effective. Boswellia serrata extract is also known as Indian frankincense and sometimes used as an anti-inflammatory treatment.

Richards's initial court appearance is set for Friday at 1 p.m.

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