Sanofi Chemist Imprisoned for Stealing Proprietary Chemical Compound Data

Sanofi Chemist Imprisoned for Stealing Proprietary Chemical Compound Data

May 8th, 2012 // 1:16 pm @


Four months after pleading guilty to stealing trade secrets from Sanofi and selling compounds through another company in which she held an interest, Yuan Li was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison, according to court documents. The former chemist must also pay $131,000 in restitution and will contend with two years of supervision after she is released. Li, who is a Chinese national, faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. It is unclear if deportation remains a possibility .

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The drugmaker hired Li six years ago as a medicinal chemist in its Bridgewater, New Jersey, facility, and 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, 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 stated. She transferred the info to her personal home computer by using her personal e-mail address or a USB thumb drive.

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