Photograph: Getty Images

GlaxoSmithKline Scientists Accused of Stealing Trade Secrets

  • U.S. says they tried to sell secrets through China company
  • Scheme targeted cancer treatments, federal prosecutors say

U.S. prosecutors accused two scientists working for GlaxoSmithKline Plc of scheming with three others to steal the company’s trade secrets for cancer drugs.

Yu Xue, 45, and Lucy Xi, 38, who worked at Glaxo’s research facility in Upper Merion, Pennsylvania, plotted to market and sell the stolen biopharmaceutical secrets through a company in China called Renopharma, Philadelphia U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said Wednesday.

Also charged with Xue and Xi are Tao Li and Yan Mei of Nanjing, China, and Tian Xue of Charlotte, North Carolina. Li was ordered detained and will be brought to Philadelphia. Mei isn’t in custody, prosecutors said. The others were arrested and released on bail.

Peter Zeidenberg, an attorney for Yu Xue, said she will contest the charges. John Joseph, an attorney for Li, and David Schertler, an attorney for Tian Xue, declined to comment on the indictment. Eric Yaffe, an attorney for Xi, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Protein Biochemist

Yu Xue, a senior-level research scientist at Glaxo from June 2006 until this month, was regarded as one of the top protein biochemists in the world, according to the indictment unsealed Wednesday. She’s accused of e-mailing trade secrets and other confidential information related to more than a dozen products from her company e-mail to a personal account and then forwarding the information to the other four.

The data were to be used to help Renopharma, a biopharmaceutical company Xue formed in Nanjing, prosecutors said. Li and Mei, co-owners of the company, sought to raise money from various sources including private investors, government agencies and universities, according to the indictment. 

Tian Xue, Yu Xue’s twin sister, helped set up a computer system for Renopharma, and Xi, Mei’s wife, helped e-mail trade secrets and other information to aid the scheme. Xi worked as a scientist at Glaxo from July 2008 until Nov. 3, 2015, according to court papers.

The charges in the 43-count indictment include conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to steal trade secrets, conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud and theft of trade secrets.

The case is U.S. v. Xue, 16-cr-00022, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

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