Sanofi Chemist Admits To Stealing Trade Secrets

Sanofi Chemist Admits To Stealing Trade Secrets

January 18th, 2012 // 2:24 pm @

Yuan Li began was hired as a medicinal chemist for Sanofi nearly six years ago. During that time, she worked on countless compounds and signed all the usual paperwork in which she acknowledged there were no conflicts of interest and that the intellectual property belonged to the drugmaker. But last year, Sanofi learned otherwise.

In May 2011, a little-known company called Abby Pharmatech began advertising chemical compounds on its web site and by the following month, Sanofi had identified more than 6,000 propriety chemical structures on an online database called SciFinder that were registered to Abby Pharmatech.

The drugmaker went to the feds, who discovered that Li was listed on federal tax forms as one of two partners and owned a 50 percent stake in the business, according to court documents (read here). Li, who is a Chinese national, later admitted, that between October 2008 and June 2011, she accessed a Sanofi database and downloaded info on numerous compounds and chemical structures, court documents state.

And the penalty? The charge to which Li pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She may also face deportation, according to the plea agreement. Sentencing is scheduled for April 23.

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