Headquarters: Ontario, Canada
2016 generic sales: $1.602 billion (estimate)
Apotex may only rank 15th among top generics makers, but it is a pretty big deal in Canada, where it bills itself as the country’s largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company.
Privately owned Apotex, founded in 1974 by now-billionaire Bernard Sherman, has about 6,000 employees in the country and 10,000 worldwide, and says it produces more than 300 generic drugs in approximately 4,000 dosage forms.
But as a key supplier in Canada’s healthcare system, it can also be a big deal when the company has supply problems, as it did last year when it ran short of seizure drug clobazam. With tens of thousands of Canadians using the drug to control seizures, the situation was worrisome enough that Health Canada held a teleconference with epilepsy groups to discuss the shortage before new API supplies allowed Apotex to get the situation under control.
The drugmaker is known for fighting for what it wants. It unsuccessfully brought a claim to international authorities alleging the U.S. violated the North American Free Trade Agreement when it banned products from Apotex plants in Toronto and Quebec from 2009 to 2011 because of manufacturing shortcomings. Then, last year, it sued the Canadian government and former health minister Rona Ambrose, claiming defamation for a 2014 import ban. Canada’s Federal Court quashed that suit.
Apotex also has tangled repeatedly in the courts with Amgen over development of biosimilars of the biotech’s cancer meds Neulasta and Neupogen—but, then again, what biosimilar maker hasn’t?
Although much of its manufacturing is in Canada, in 2017 Apotex kicked off a $184 million project in South Florida that comprises a new manufacturing plant to produce pain meds, a packaging facility and a new R&D center. That project is slated to be complete in 2019 and eventually employ 150.