Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) is suing Regor Therapeutics, a China-headquartered company that announced a $1.5 billion diabetes alliance with Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) in late 2021.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, Pfizer’s lawsuit also accuses former employees Xiayang Qiu, Min Zhong and 10 unnamed individuals of using its trade secrets as the basis for the company Regor Therapeutics (Shanghai), which was founded in 2018. The two also established a secondary company known as QILU Regor Therapeutics, also named in the suit.
Specifically, Pfizer accuses Regor of poaching from its diabetes and obesity pipeline, including glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist candidates. In late 2016, Pfizer filed a patent application describing more than 250 small-molecule compounds that were the fruits of a 14-year-long R&D initiative, including GLP-1 receptor agonists.
Pfizer is seeking damages and injunctive relief in the case, including reassigning applicable Regor patents to Pfizer.
The suit alleges that the defendants misappropriated trade secrets in violation of the Defend Trade Secrets Act and violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. In addition, it accuses the defendants of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of duty of loyalty under Connecticut law and breach of contract under New York law.
Pfizer said it concluded through forensic research that the Regor co-founders used numerous devices and accounts to steal trade secrets.
Regor Therapeutics did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The co-founder and current CEO of Regor Therapeutics, Xiayang Qiu, worked as an executive at Pfizer from 2001 to 2018. According to his LinkedIn profile, Qiu was involved in developing 29 candidates across a range of therapeutic areas.
Min Zhong, Regor’s chief operating officer, worked at Pfizer from 2007 to 2018.
In Regor’s collaboration with Lilly, the company received an upfront payment of up to $50 million an additional $1.5 billion in potential milestone payments.
In a press release, Qiu boasted of establishing a “world-class research organization” in a little over three years.
The case is titled Titled “Pfizer v. Regor Therapeutics Inc., Qilu Regor Therapeutics Inc., Xiayang Qiu, Min Zhong, and Does 1-10.” The case number is 3:22-cv-190.
Filed Under: Cardiovascular, Drug Discovery, Metabolic disease/endicrinology