Clinical Drug Trial Coordinator Imprisoned for Drug Study Scam

By John Lavitt 03/12/15

Clinical trial coordinator Wesley McQuerry falsified an HIV drug study using his own stool.

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A clinical drug trial coordinator in Chicago was sentenced to three years in prison for conducting a drug study scam.

While working as a coordinator for a real study for a new HIV drug, Wesley McQuerry, 50, submitted his own stool samples while pocketing the money earmarked for stool donors. Wesley created fake patients, faked lab work, and forged doctors’ signatures. Submitting his own stool samples again and again, McQuerry deposited more than 2,000 patient checks into his bank account, totaling to close to $200,000.

During the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen Merin said if the drug study scam not been uncovered, it could have resulted in flawed data being given to the Food and Drug Administration. Considering that such data is crucial to the drug-approval process, the potential risk of such manipulation in clinical trial results is extreme. The drug being tested in the clinical trial is intended to help treat HIV-associated diarrhea. The ugly irony of the case is that McQuerry is HIV-positive and lied on his resume to obtain the position. Left largely unsupervised, McQuerry chose to cut corners, lie, and steal.

Actually involved as a patient with a similar study in 2008, McQuerry apologized to the court. “I just didn’t know what to do, I was under stress ... I accept responsibility.”

Convicted of embezzling more than $364,000 from DePaul University when he worked in the school’s alumni relations department from 1999 to 2001, McQuerry previously served two years in prison. He has a history of fraud that includes convictions for ghost pay-rolling and credit card fraud schemes.

Given the lack of oversight during the study that allowed such manipulation to take place, the FDA taken disciplinary action against the doctor in charge. He was concurrently running about a dozen other studies. McQuerry claimed that the lack of oversight led to his criminal behavior.

Although Judge Charles P. Kocoras agreed that “[t]he doctor basically shirked his responsibility wholesale,” he also emphasized to McQuerry that “[y]ou took advantage of the fact that no one was looking over your shoulder.” Kocoras ordered McQuerry to pay $200,000 restitution in addition to the jail time.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.