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Third former GSK scientist pleads guilty to conspiring to steal trade secrets

Jan 4, 2022

Nicole DeFeudis Editor A third for­mer Glax­o­SmithK­line sci­en­tist caught in an al­leged plot to steal trade se­crets and sell the work in Chi­na plead­ed guilty to con­spir­a­cy on Mon­day. Lucy Xi, a 44-year-old sci­en­tist, was ac­cused of feed­ing her for­mer hus­band, Yan Mei, con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion on GSK’s re­search in­to mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies for his work on a new Chi­nese biotech com­pa­ny called Renophar­ma, ac­cord­ing to the charges. Mei es­tab­lished Renophar­ma back in 2012 along with Tao Li and Yu Xue, a for­mer top chemist at GSK’s Up­per Meri­on, PA, fa­cil­i­ty. While the com­pa­ny claimed to be do­ing R&D work in on­col­o­gy, US at­tor­ney Jen­nifer Ar­bit­ti­er Williams ar­gued Renophar­ma was ac­tu­al­ly used “as a repos­i­to­ry of in­for­ma­tion stolen from GSK.” Fur­ther­more, the gov­ern­ment of Chi­na sub­si­dized and sup­port­ed the com­pa­ny fi­nan­cial­ly. Xue and Li plead­ed guilty to their con­spir­a­cy charges more than three years ago, while Mei re­mains a fugi­tive liv­ing in Chi­na, ac­cord­ing to the De­part­ment of Jus­tice. Xue’s sis­ter, Tian Xue, has al­so plead­ed guilty to con­spir­a­cy. “This de­fen­dant il­le­gal­ly stole trade se­crets to ben­e­fit her hus­band’s com­pa­ny, which was fi­nanced by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment. The lifeblood of com­pa­nies like GSK is its in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty, and when that prop­er­ty is stolen and trans­ferred to a for­eign coun­try, it threat­ens thou­sands of Amer­i­can jobs and jeop­ar­dizes the strate­gic ben­e­fits brought about through re­search and de­vel­op­ment,” Williams said in a state­ment. Xi worked as a GSK sci­en­tist from Ju­ly 2008 to No­vem­ber 2015, ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ment. In Jan­u­ary 2015, she sent Mei a GSK doc­u­ment con­tain­ing se­cret da­ta and in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing a sum­ma­ry of GSK’s re­search in­to mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies. In the body of the email, she wrote: “You need to un­der­stand it very well. It will help you in your fu­ture busi­ness [RENOPHAR­MA].” While Xue plead­ed guilty back in 2018, she told the judge that she didn’t think she was shar­ing ac­tu­al trade se­crets. How­ev­er, the judge not­ed that pros­e­cu­tors didn’t need to prove that she un­der­stood the ma­te­r­i­al in­clud­ed trade se­crets, just that Xue knew she was of­fer­ing a look at con­fi­den­tial re­search. Xi is sched­uled for sen­tenc­ing on April 12, ac­cord­ing to a Reuters re­port . Chi­nese re­search has re­cent­ly come un­der in­creased scruti­ny by the US, with the Biden ad­min­is­tra­tion black­list­ing and sanc­tion­ing dozens of gov­ern­ment re­search in­sti­tutes and pri­vate-sec­tor firms last month over con­cerns they were po­ten­tial­ly look­ing to weaponize biotech­nol­o­gy, in­clud­ing sup­posed “brain-con­trol weapon­ry,” ac­cord­ing to an ABC News re­port . Just a cou­ple weeks ago, Charles Lieber, the for­mer Chair of Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty’s Chem­istry and Chem­i­cal Bi­ol­o­gy De­part­ment was con­vict­ed of ly­ing to fed­er­al au­thor­i­ties about his af­fil­i­a­tion with Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of Chi­na’s Thou­sand Tal­ents Pro­gram and the Wuhan Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy (WUT), and fail­ing to re­port in­come he re­ceived from WUT. FBI spe­cial agent Joseph R. Bonavolon­ta said Lieber “re­peat­ed­ly lied to his em­ploy­er, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, and tax­pay­ers to fraud­u­lent­ly main­tain ac­cess to fed­er­al re­search funds.” “To­day’s ver­dict re­in­forces our com­mit­ment to pro­tect our coun­try’s po­si­tion as a glob­al leader in re­search and in­no­va­tion and to hold those ac­count­able who ex­ploit and un­der­mine that po­si­tion through dis­hon­esty,” Bonavolon­ta said. AUTHOR Zachary Brennan Senior Editor Kicking off 2022, hundreds of pharmaceuticals, including some blockbusters, saw their list prices rise by about 5% on average. But overall, net drug prices (cost after rebates) declined for the fourth year in a row, potentially complicating already stalled drug price reform efforts. Among the drugs seeing new increases as of Jan. 1 are Gilead’s bevy of blockbuster HIV drugs. Biktarvy, which pulled in more than $7 billion in worldwide sales in 2020, saw a 4.8% price increase in 2021, and now, another 5.6% increase in 2022 , according to a new report from the nonprofit 46brooklyn Research. Read More Zachary Brennan Senior Editor For anyone who’s been following how the US government has been allocating and shipping supplies of its Covid-19 treatments over the past year, the news has shifted so many times that it can be difficult to keep track of what’s still being shipped and where. More change is coming this week too, as HHS has now decided to re-start shipments of both Eli Lilly (bamlanivimab plus etesevimab) and Regeneron (casirivimab plus imdevimab) monoclonal antibody products after a short pause because neither product works against the new variant Omicron. Lilly’s combo also was halted last June due to the presence of other variants. Read More Beth Snyder Bulik Senior Editor Susan Sweeney spent more than two decades in drug commercialization at Bristol Myers Squibb before moving to Amgen in September 2019, just a few months before the Covid-19 pandemic. Sweeney, now Amgen’s senior VP of global marketing, access and capabilities, didn’t know of course what was about to happen any more than anyone else, but her longtime drug launch expertise – which included blockbusters like Opdivo and Eliquis – meant she’d weathered more ups and downs in pharma commercialization than most. Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription Unlock this story instantly and join 126,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free. SIGN UP Beth Snyder Bulik Senior Editor Pfizer pitched some early New Year’s resolutions with Covid-related rules in LinkedIn and Facebook video posts just before the end of the year. Resolution rule number one was a suggestion for those who didn’t have a promise yet for 2022 to take the vow: “I will do my part to stop the pandemic.” Its second rule suggestion? “Please do not make it your 2022 goal to learn more of the Greek alphabet” in a reference to the naming convention of Covid-19 variants selected by the World Health Organization. Lastly, the Covid-19 mRNA vaccine maker, along with partner BioNTech, offered suggestions for a good toast: “Here’s to a great 2022!” along with a bad idea for a toast: “It can’t get any worse!” Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription Unlock this story instantly and join 126,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free. SIGN UP Beth Snyder Bulik Senior Editor Is there a twindemic deja vu in the works? Although last year’s double whammy of Covid-19 and flu infections never panned out, CSL’s Seqirus wants to make sure it doesn’t happen this year, especially as flu cases are already on the rise. As pandemic restrictions relax – more indoor meetups and travel and less mask wearing – the potential for a real twindemic is certainly possible. While reports of influenza are still lower than normal, cases are ramping up, according to the CDC’s Fluview monitoring system. The increase is happening, however, even as three in five people in the US say they plan to skip or delay a flu vaccine this season. Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription Unlock this story instantly and join 126,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free. SIGN UP LOG IN January 4, 2022 01:11 PM EST Beth Snyder Bulik Senior Editor Eisai’s metastatic breast cancer patient portrait campaign “This is MBC” began seven years ago to bring metastatic cancer stories and conversations into the open. Its latest iteration with partner advocacy group METAvivor is called “fearLESS” and features 10 women with MBC who lived in a house together in Flagstaff, AZ during the campaign photo shoot. Patient portraits – a hallmark of the long-running campaign – this year show the women posed against the dramatic and beautiful southwestern landscapes. Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription Unlock this story instantly and join 126,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free. SIGN UP LOG IN

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