Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia have charged five people in an alleged conspiracy to steal trade secrets from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and market them in China.
Two scientists at GSK’s Upper Merion, Pa. facility allegedly stole research data, procedures and manufacturing processes for biopharmaceutical products and sent that information to others who marketed it in China under a company called Renopharma Inc.
Yu Xue, who spent nearly 10 years as a research scientist at GSK’s Upper Merion facility, is accused of e-mailing GSK trade secrets to her personal account and saving them to a thumb drive or other storage device. She then forwarded the information to Tao Li and Yan Mei —owners of Renopharma — who worked in China to market and sell the stolen trade secrets, the indictment says.
Court documents say that Tian Xue (Yu Xue’s twin sister) hid the proceeds under her name. Lucy Xi, Mei’s wife, worked as a scientist at GSK from 2008 to 2015 and is accused of emailing trade secrets to her husband.
It’s certainly a high-stakes game, as the indictment says GSK typically spent in excess of $1 billion to research and develop each of its biopharmaceutical products.
“The processes to research, develop, and eventually manufacture biopharmaceutical products were extremely complicated. GSK spent a considerable amount of time, effort, and money in developing procedures to research, develop, and manufacture pharmaceutical products,” the indictment says. It goes on to say “GSK would be injured financially because its competitors would be able to develop the same or similar products to sell.”
GSK employees are forbidden to use “proprietary information for other business or personal activities from which they, or others connected with them, might personally benefit,” the court documents say.
The indictment includes charges of conspiracy to steal trade secrets, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, theft of trade secrets and wire fraud. The charges were announced by United States Attorney Zane David Memeger.
If convicted of all charges, each defendant faces a possible prison term, fines, restitution, special assessments and a term of supervised release.