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Three months ago, Effendi Ortiz-Toro resigned from Shire Pharmaceuticals (SHPG), where he worked as sales director for the Midwest region, and took a job with Ultragenyx (RARE), which also sells rare-disease drugs. A few weeks later, three regional business managers followed him out the door and also joined Ultragenyx, a scenario that Shire alleges involved stealing confidential information.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, Shire claimed its former employees surreptitiously conspired to take valuable lists of doctors who specialize in treating rare disorders. As a result, Shire argued, Ultragenyx quickly gained a competitive edge and Shire asked a federal court to issue a restraining order to prevent Ultragenyx from marketing a newly approved medicine for treating a rare disease called Sly syndrome.


Although Shire acknowledged that one of its drugs targets a different form of a genetic metabolic disorder called MPS, the company contended symptoms seen in both diseases “overlap substantially.” By having those lead lists, Shire argued, Ultragenyx can now more easily identify doctors who might prescribe its new drug “without the substantial time or monetary investment” made by Shire.

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