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January 18, 2012
Selling Sanofi's Compounds on the Side
Now here is an amazingly stupid move: a medicinal chemist at Sanofi (Yuan Li) downloaded a large set of proprietary compounds from the company's files, and founded another company on the side to sell them.
Strangely enough, someone at Sanofi noticed that their in-house compounds were appearing for sale at Abby Pharmtech, of Newark, Delaware. (Better take a look at that web site while you can). It is supposedly the US subsidiary of Xiamon KAK, of Xiamen, China. According to this criminal complaint (thanks to Pharmalot for the link), Sanofi found (in May and June of last year) 6,000 of their internal compounds showing up on SciFinder as available from Abby. A search of Li's computer at Sanofi showed all sorts of useful stuff - a listing of 144,000 compounds in a file called "Abby Pharmtech" (complete with internal Sanofi registration codes), tax forms showing her as a partner and co-founder of Abby (confirmed by IRS records), and so on.
The penalty? There's been a plea agreement (again, thanks Pharmalot), and sentencing is scheduled for April 23. There's a maximum potential prison term of 10 years, and a maximum fine of at least $250,000 - all that is up to the judge. This is in addition to restitution to Sanofi ($131,000) and a very high likelihood of immigration proceedings. It is safe to say that this master plan has not worked out too well.
What, just what, was this person thinking? How lucrative could this idea have possibly been, compared to the risks? And how could they have imagined that this would fly at all - that no one at Sanofi would ever notice that stuff from their own files and lab notebooks was now for sale? You just never know what people can get up to.
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