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Lilly Scientists Charged With Trade-Secret Theft

by Marc S. Reisch
October 14, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 41

Two former Eli Lilly & Co. scientists have been charged with stealing trade secrets valued at $55 million from the drugmaker and handing them over to Shanghai-based Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine. According to an indictment filed in a U.S. District Court in Indianapolis and unsealed last week, Chinese-born biologists Guoqing Cao and Shuyu Li downloaded information on drug targets and candidates for the treatment of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Court documents charge that Cao, a U.S. citizen who worked at Lilly for 14 years, then sent the information to an unnamed former Lilly employee who has worked for Hengrui for the past five years. When Cao joined Hengrui at the beginning of 2012, he recruited Li, also a U.S. citizen who worked for Lilly until May 2013, to continue passing on Lilly research. Lilly calls the charges appalling and says it will work with the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI to prosecute the two scientists. Cao and Li are now in jail in the U.S. because they are considered flight risks.

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