5 charged in alleged scheme to steal drug secrets

AP News
Posted: Jan 20, 2016 7:13 PM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Five people were indicted in federal court on charges they took part in an alleged scheme to steal biopharmaceutical trade secrets from GlaxoSmithKline and sell them to competitors in China.

The indictment, which includes charges such as conspiracy to steal trade secrets and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, said many of the products allegedly targeted were designed to treat cancer or other serious diseases.

The U.S. attorney's office alleges that GlaxoSmithKline scientist Yu Xue emailed and downloaded confidential information and worked with other defendants to set up three corporations to sell the stolen intellectual property. They also allege that former company scientist Lucy Xi also emailed confidential information.

Prosecutors said Xue, 45, of Wayne — who they said "is regarded as one of the top protein biochemists in the world" — worked primarily to develop anti-cancer drugs using proteins to target receptor sites on cancer cells.

"These types of anti-cancer drugs ... typically cost pharmaceutical corporations more than $1 billion and many years to develop before they can be turned into a commercially successful product," prosecutors said in the indictment. Authorities alleged that Xue "stole more than a dozen specific products, even products she was not directly researching and developing."

Attorney Peter Zeidenberg said Wednesday that Xue had pleaded not guilty and would contest the charges; he said the defense believes "that at the end of the day she'll be exonerated."

Attorneys for 42-year-old Tao Li, of Nanjing, China; 45-year-old Tian Xue, of Charlotte, North Carolina; and 38-year-old Lucy Xi, of West Lake Village, California, declined comment. An attorney for 36-year-old Yan Mei, of Nanjing, China couldn't be found Wednesday.