Accused of stealing Teva secrets, Apotex CEO exits abruptly even as founder's death ruled homicide

Apotex pills
Jeremy Desai, who was named Apotex CEO in 2014, has resigned six months after being named in a lawsuit by Teva for allegedly receiving trade secrets from a former Teva executive who was his girlfriend.

The turmoil at Canada’s largest homegrown pharma company, generics maker Apotex, continues with the resignation of CEO Jeremy Desai even as the company deals with the fallout from the murders of the company’s founder and his wife.

Apotex said on Friday that Desai had resigned and was being replaced by vice chairman and former CEO Jack Kay. Apotex global generics president Jeff Watson, a 25-year veteran of the company, has been appointed president and chief operating officer.

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

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The resignation of Desai comes six months after Teva filed a lawsuit against him and Apotex claiming that for two years Desai received copies of Teva trade secrets from his girlfriend, Barinder Sandhu, who before her 2016 departure was Teva’s chief of regulatory affairs for its American generics business.  

A company spokesman declined to tell CBC News the reason for Desai's departure saying only, "We thank Jeremy for his contributions and wish him success in the next phase of his career."

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

Separately, Toronto police on Friday announced that they were investigating the strangulation deaths of 75-year-old Apotex founder Barry Sherman and his 70-year-old wife, Honey, as a targeted double murder, according to a streamed version of a press conference.

Police said the couple was found Dec. 15, 2017 with belts around their necks that were attached to a railing near the indoor pool of their $7 million home. Police declined to discuss suspects or a possible motive. Det.-Sgt. Susan Gomes did say, "Legal complexities in some (evidence) executions have been challenging, given the litigious nature of Barry Sherman's businesses, in particular the search and seizure of electronics in [his] workspace at Apotex."

The Canadian billionaire was known to be litigious and was involved in a number of legal battles when Toronto police were called to the couple's three-story home and found them strangled to death on the deck of their pool. The Toronto Star reported that just days before they were murdered, 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: NAFTA says FDA was in its rights to ban Apotex plants

Apotex even claimed to international authorities that the U.S. violated the North American Free Trade Act when it banned products from Apotex plants in Toronto and Quebec from 2009 to 2011 over quality problems uncovered by the FDA. An arbitration panel sided with the FDA.

Apotex has a history of issues with regulatory agencies. Following a November inspection, the U.K.'s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) pulled the manufacturing certificate for an Apotex solid-dose plant in Bangalore, India, saying investigators found a risk for cross-contamination.