News has hit that new criminal charges have been filed against scientists who authorities believe shared trade secrets with foreign entities. The case reminds many in Pennsylvania of similar charges that were dropped in 2014. Some speculate that these recent federal white collar crimes charges will suffer a similar fate.
The case involves two scientists that work for GlaxoSmithKline. They are accused of downloading proprietary data owned by GSK and emailing the information to Chinese contacts. Those contacts are linked to a company named Renopharma, which offers research services to drug manufacturers on a contractual basis.
The trade secrets in question pertain to biopharmaceutical drugs, which are drugs that can cause cellular behavior changes by causing proteins to bind to receptor cells in a certain manner. One of the scientists accused of sharing trade secrets is widely acknowledged as an expert in the field of biochemistry. She helped lead GSK in the creation of a cancer treatment drug. Several of her emails have been seized and will be used as evidence in the current case.
As the case moves forward, many in Pennsylvania will watch to see if federal authorities can prove the white collar crimes allegations. Some of the individuals mentioned in this case were also involved in the previous trade secret allegations, which were eventually dropped. If the prosecution is not able to make a stronger case against these two scientists, they too may be cleared of wrongdoing and allowed to continue their pioneering work in the pharmaceutical field.
Source: Science, "U.S. charges drug researchers with sending trade secrets to China, but will case stand up?", Mara Hvistendhal, Jan. 26, 2016