A university says the Missouri professor stole – and sold – the work of a graduate student: NPR


The innovative and potentially lucrative idea of ​​a graduate student to bring drugs to the fore is at the center of a lawsuit filed by the University of Missouri system against a former pharmacy professor. . The school said Ashim Mitra patented the student's idea and sold it as part of a potentially multi-million dollar transaction.

The lawsuit comes months after the Food and Drug Administration approved a drug for dry eye called Cequa, a drug based on the work done by Dr. Kishore Cholkar while he was a graduate student at Missouri University -Kansas of Mitra. City Pharmacy School.

Cequa, according to the school, "should compete for a substantial part of an annual multibillion dollar market".

Conservatives at the University of Missouri are suing Mitra, his wife and two pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of being appropriate Cholkar's work. The school says that she owns the invention of Cholkar. He alleges that Mitra and the pharmaceutical companies – Sun Pharmaceutical and Auven Therapeutics – conspired to retain all the profits for themselves.

Mitra has already earned more than $ 1.5 million through this drug, the trial says, citing its agreement with Auven, a drug development company. After Mitra and Auven obtained a patent for the drug, he sold "all intellectual property against a payment of $ 40 million, as well as ongoing royalties, to Sun Pharma, a large multinational pharmaceutical conglomerate."

"All this happened without any disclosure – let alone approval from the university," the lawsuit says.

In response to the complaint, Mitra sent a statement to the member station KCUR in which he described the university's application as "unexpected and disappointing". (KCUR is licensed by the Council of Curators of the University of Missouri and is an editorial independent community service of the University of Missouri, Kansas City.)

Mitra said that he could "unequivocally prove" that the drug discovery for the eyes "had been conceptualized by myself and the legitimate co-creators."

"Dr. Kishore Cholkar is one of my accomplished students who wrote an article on other aspects of the Cyclosporine formulation after the patent had already been submitted to the FDA for approval," said Mitra. "It's clear that UMKC and himself are now trying [to] to reap the rewards of the tireless work that I and others have done to make it a success. "

The lawsuit also has an international aspect, mentioning Auven Therapeutics as being based in the US Virgin Islands with subsidiaries in Switzerland. And it says that Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. is based in Mumbai, India.

The lawsuit alleges that Auven deliberately avoided discussing his plans regarding the drug with people from the university other than Mitra – and that the company would have known that the professor had "a conflict of interest." Interest manifest, "says the lawsuit.

Conservatives at the University of Missouri are now asking a federal court to appoint Cholkar as the legitimate inventor of the drug's patents and to declare the university's property right to work. . They also claim damages from Mitra and the companies involved, as well as from Mitra's wife, Ranjana, who worked both in a pharmacy school and in a consulting business with her husband.

The school alleges that Mitra, a full professor of the school who previously sat on its patent board, violated the terms of his employment.

Mitra began working at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Faculty of Pharmacy in August 1994. He entered into a resignation agreement in January, following an internal investigation into potential breaches of the law. standards of conduct of faculty of the university. His resignation will be final on March 31, 2019.

Mitra was the subject of careful scrutiny in 2018 due to allegations that he would have exercised his influence as a full professor to put pressure on students – especially students from his country from the start, India – in the accomplishment of subordinate tasks for him.

As Laura Ziegler of KCUR reported last month:

"The Kansas City Star reported on the survey last fall and spoke to dozens of students who claimed that Mitra had threatened their student status and even status. from their visa if they refused to perform household chores Students were asked to clean the flooded Mitra basement, take care of his dog and serve food during cultural events A student described his work as "modern slavery."

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