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

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.

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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David Loew (Ipsen)

Ipsen snags an ap­proved can­cer drug in $247M M&A deal as an­oth­er bat­tered biotech sells cheap

You can add Paris-based Ipsen to the list of discount buyers patrolling the penny stock pack for a cheap M&A deal.

The French biotech, which has had plenty of its own problems to grapple with, has swooped in to buy Epizyme $EPZM for $247 million in cash and a CVR with milestones attached to it. Epizyme shareholders, who had to suffer through a painfully soft launch of their EZH2a inhibitor cancer drug Tazverik, will get $1.45 per share along with a $1 CVR tied to achieving $250 million in sales from the drug over four consecutive quarters as well as an OK for second-line follicular lymphoma by 1 Jan. 2028.

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AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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Joe Papa (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Joe Pa­pa re­signs as chair of Bausch Health as bil­lion­aire John Paul­son takes over

Joe Papa, chair of Bausch Health, officially resigned on Thursday and the board appointed billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson as the new chair, effective immediately.

The specialty pharma company sought to make clear that Papa’s abrupt departure “was not due to any dispute or disagreement with the Company, its management or the Board on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.”

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De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images)

Phar­ma-friend­ly sen­a­tor calls on FDA for a third time to show patent pro­tec­tions should­n't be blamed for high drug prices

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis made a name for himself in the 2020 election cycle as the darling of the pharma industry, accepting hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions, even from the likes of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Those contributions have led Tillis to attempt to re-write patent laws in pharma’s favor, a move which failed to gain steam in 2019, and request for a third time since January that the FDA should help stop “the false narrative that patent protections are to blame for high drug prices.”

EMA signs off on 3 drugs re­cent­ly re­ject­ed by FDA, in­clud­ing Bio­Mar­in's new he­mo­phil­ia gene ther­a­py

The EMA’s human medicines committee on Friday recommended three new drugs for approval or conditional approval, even as their US counterparts have rejected these three for various reasons.

In a major move, CHMP offered a thumbs-up to a conditional marketing authorization for the first gene therapy to treat severe hemophilia A, although the agency cautioned that it’s so far unknown how long the effects of infusion will last.

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