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October 10, 2013
A Leak at Lilly
The Indianapolis Business Journal has reported that two ex-Lilly employees have been indicted on charges of stealing trade secrets:
The indictment charges two Carmel residents, Guoqing Cao and Shuyu Li, with seven counts of theft and conspiracy to commit theft. It also describes the actions of a third man, referred to only as Individual #1, who also played a part in the alleged crime.
According to the indictment, Cao and Li, both of whom are scientists with doctoral degrees, e-mailed sensitive information about nine experimental drug research programs at Lilly to Individual #1, who is employed by Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co. Ltd., based in China.
The story is puzzling in its details. These were apparently all "early stage" results across several therapeutic areas, which is hard to figure. If the information was from too early a stage, one wonders what the Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Company would be able to make out of them, without spending a big pile of its own money, which I presume was not the plan. The article attaches a figure of $55 million to what was stolen, but I have absolutely no idea of how that was calculated. That must be a rough estimate of how much Lilly has spent on whatever it was; future value of these things is, naturally, a complete coin toss. We may also be looking at someone else's understanding of drug development, where everything short of picking the package color is considered early and/or brief. At any rate, Lilly's general counsel has said that the theft "does not significantly jeopardize our overall research and development pipeline", which makes you wonder why it was worth stealing in the first place. More on this as details come out. . .
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