The founder of start-up pharmaceutical company has been charged in a US federal court with assuming the identity of an employee of Nabi Biopharmaceuticals in order to obtain information useful in the generic production of a kidney drug.
Ray Nathan, the 54-year-old Californian founder of Argus Therapeutics, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine (€197,000) if found guilty of wire fraud in connection with his efforts to obtain proprietary information from Florida-based Nabi about PhosLo (calcium acetate), a prescription phosphate binder indicated for the control of elevated serum phosphorus levels in patients with end-stage renal disease.
According to the US Attorney's office, Nathan used the identity of a senior Nabi employee to open a Yahoo e-mail account in June 2005 and then send several e-mails from that Yahoo account to Lyne Laboratories in Massachusetts purporting to be from the Nabi employee.
Lyne Laboratories had sensitive information about PhosLo because it manufactured the drug as a subcontractor for Nabi until two years ago.
In the e-mails, Nanthan is alleged to have asked Lyne to send this information about PhosLo to his fraudulent Yahoo account which he would then use to manufacture a generic version of the drug.
However, the Lynne employee who received the e-mails became suspicious and checked with Nabi, at which point he learned that the e-mails were fraudulent and did not send the requested information.
Nabi then referred the matter to federal prosecutors, resulting in an FBI investigation and charges issued against Nathan.
Nevertheless, the fact that Nathan is charged in a one-count "information" with wire fraud, rather than indictment, may indicate that a plea deal is being considered.