U.K. cites Apotex plant in India; action comes in midst of probe into death of Apotex founder

Apotex pills
An Apotex plant in India has had its certificate of manufacturing suspended by the U.K.'s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency after investigators found concerns over cross-contamination.

Apotex has run into lots of regulatory issues with the FDA over the years, but now it is regulators in the U.K. that are expressing concern. And it comes at an uncertain time for Canada’s largest drugmaker after founder and chairman Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey, were found strangled to death in their Toronto home last month.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has pulled the manufacturing certificate for an Apotex solid-dose plant in Bangalore, India, saying investigators found a risk for cross-contamination during a November inspection.

EU countries share inspections information, and the MHRA recommended that each member country consider recalling products in which cross-contamination cannot be ruled out. It said that it will issue a new certificate which would allow the plant to continue to sell products in the EU if Apotex gets a written agreement with member countries and there is a danger of shortages of critical drugs.

RELATED: FDA raises issues with another Apotex plant

Apotex has a long history of quality problems uncovered by the FDA. Apotex had products from plants in Toronto and Quebec banned from 2009 to 2011. After the ban was lifted in 2011, Apotex filed suit through the North American Free Trade Act, alleging the FDA action was unwarranted and decimated its business, costing it $500 million in lost sales and expenses. The international authorities sided with the FDA. On a return inspection to the plants in 2013, the FDA found more issues and again issued warning letters.

Sherman was known to be litigious and was involved in a number of legal fights when Toronto police announced three weeks ago that the 75-year-old billionaire and his 70-year-old wife had been found strangled to death. The police said the deaths were being investigating by its homicide unit. The couple were reportedly found hanging from the railing of a lap swimming pool in their $7 million Toronto home, CNBC reported.

The Toronto Star reported that just days before they died, Sherman had filed a lawsuit in an effort to quash a government investigation into whether lobbying rules had been broken when he held a political fundraiser for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He has also been involved in a decadelong legal battle with cousins who claim they are owed part of the Apotex fortune.

RELATED: Teva accuses former executive of siphoning trade secrets to her rival CEO boyfriend

Last summer, Apotex was named in a lawsuit by Teva which accuses Teva’s ex-chief of regulatory affairs for its American generics business of having passed trade secrets to her boyfriend. Her boyfriend happened to be Jeremy Desai, Ph.D., CEO of generics at Apotex. The lawsuit alleges that over a period of about two years ending in 2016, Teva employee Barinder Sandhu copied company files onto flash drives and passed them to Desai. Sandhu was fired in October 2016. Desai and Apotex, which are both named as defendants, have denied any wrongdoing.