Utah Senate president calls Tribune report on Co-Diagnostics ‘concerning’

Stuart Adams says the legislature already authorized an audit, which is expected in the fall.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, during a special session at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.

After a recent report from The Salt Lake Tribune that the Securities and Exchange Commission made inquiries into how COVID-19 tests from Salt Lake City’s Co-Diagnostics were used during Silicon Slopes’ TestUtah initiative, Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, characterized the information as “concerning.”

The Tribune’s investigation revealed that a Silicon Slopes board member used his connections with Sen. Mitt Romney’s office to request help with an FDA approval for the tests. Adams said in an email that the legislature authorized an audit of the Utah Department of Health by the legislative auditor general in October, and that he expects them to present their findings this fall when the audit is completed.

According to the legislative website, the legislative audit subcommittee moved to “prioritize an efficiency and effectiveness audit of the Utah Department of Health” on Oct. 13, along with “an audit of the data and criteria government entities use when making critical decisions related to COVID-19.” The motion passed with a vote of 5-0.

“Last year, we were in the middle of a pandemic, and we were trying to save lives and livelihood,” Adams wrote in an email. “We were informed there was a charitable effort by these companies to help during this crisis. It is disconcerting to learn about the financial gains and the SEC inquiry. We need additional information to fully understand what happened.”

Last year, state officials including Adams wanted to make the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine available to Utahns as an off-label treatment for COVID-19.

CEO and pharmacist of Meds In Motion Pharmacy Dan Richards, who admitted to mislabeling one of his drug imports as an herbal supplement, reached out to state leaders in March to alert them that he’d bought about 1,760 pounds of raw hydroxychloroquine. His efforts to stockpile the medication drew support from officials like Adams, who was with the pharmacist at a March press conference in the State Capitol promoting the drugs.

Utah leaders contacted by Richards insist they had no knowledge that Richards was mislabeling the medication until he was charged.