Former GlaxoSmithKline Scientist Pleads Guilty to Stealing Trade Secrets

By Keith Sokol, Thornical Press

January 4, 2022

PHILADELPHIA – Former GlaxoSmithKline scientist pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal trade secrets from GlaxoSmithKline to benefit a Chinese pharmaceutical company.

United States Attorney Jennifer Williams announced that Lucy Xi, 44, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal trade secrets from GlaxoSmithKline to benefit Renopharma, a Chinese pharmaceutical company.

Lucy Xi’s co-defendants, Yu Xue, Tao Li and Yan Mei, established Renopharma to allegedly research and develop anti-cancer drugs.  However, the company was used as a repository of information stolen from GlaxoSmithKline. 

According to an FBI press release, “Renopharma received financial support and subsidies from the government of China. At the time, Lucy Xi (who was married to Yan Mei) and Yu Xue were employed as a scientists at a GSK facility in Upper Merion, PA, which worked on developing biopharmaceutical products. These products typically cost in excess of $1 billion to research and develop.”

In early 2015, Lucy Xi sent Yan Mei a confidential GlaxoSmithKline document that provided a summary of GlaxoSmithKline research into monoclonal antibodies.  In the e-mail, Lucy Xi wrote, “You need to understand it very well. It will help you in your future business.”

According to the U.S. Justice Department, Yu Xue, Lucy Xi’s sister, Tian Xue, and Tao Li have pleaded guilty for their roles in this conspiracy. Yan Mei is currently a fugitive from justice living in China.

“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. Such criminal behavior must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” U.S. Attorney Williams said in a statement.

Photo: Ian Wilson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons