Litigation Release No. 21545 / June 2, 2010

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Elizabeth A. Dragon, United States District Court for the Southern District of California, Case No. 10-CV-1186 BTM (POR) (June 2, 2010).


The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a former executive at a San Diego-based biotechnology company for making false statements to investors about her company's prenatal test for Down syndrome.

The Commission alleges that Elizabeth A. Dragon ("Dragon"), the former Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Sequenom, Inc., lied during at least three public events where she made presentations to analysts and investors. She claimed that the test could predict whether a fetus had Down syndrome with almost 100 percent accuracy. However, the Commission alleges that Dragon knew the test was far less accurate than she claimed publicly. When Sequenom later announced that it was no longer relying on the data that Dragon presented and the test would not be launched as planned, the company's stock price plummeted by approximately 76 percent.

The Commission's complaint, filed in federal court in San Diego, alleges that Dragon presented materially misleading scientific data about Sequenom's prenatal screening test for Down syndrome. The Commission alleges that she falsely claimed that the test's highly accurate results were obtained on a "blinded" basis, meaning that scientists did not know whether the fetus had Down syndrome at the time they tested the maternal blood sample.

However, the Commission alleges that Dragon provided her scientists with the known outcomes of the samples, which allowed them to manipulate the data in order to produce more accurate results. The complaint alleges that Dragon falsified the number of samples allegedly tested by Sequenom and that she lied about how well the test worked, claiming that it produced unambiguous results. In reality, the complaint alleges, the test results were often difficult to interpret, which is why she needed to "unblind" the known outcomes to her scientists.

Without admitting or denying the Commission's charges, Dragon has consented to the entry of a judgment permanently enjoining her from future violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and barring her from serving as an officer or director of a public company. The Court will determine the amount of a financial penalty to be paid by Dragon at a later date.

See Also: SEC Complaint


Last modified: 6/03/2010