Jeremy Desai, president and chief executive of generic drug maker Apotex Inc., which was founded by the late Barry Sherman, has resigned, the company announced Friday.
In a statement provided to the Post, Apotex said Desai was leaving the company “to pursue other opportunities.” The company also announced Apotex vice-chairman Jack Kay would return to the CEO role, a position he occupied four years ago, with president of global generics Jeff Watson becoming the company’s president and chief operating officer.
“We thank Jeremy for his contributions and wish him success in the next phase of his career,” Apotex said in the statement. Apotex spokesperson Jordan Berman declined to elaborate on Desai’s reasons for leaving, saying the company does not comment on personnel matters.
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Barry Sherman and his wife Honey were found dead in their Toronto home in mid-December, with officials citing the cause of death as ligature neck compression. In a press conference Friday afternoon, police said they believe the couple was murdered in a targeted attack.
Sherman had stepped down as CEO in 2012, but continued to work long hours at the company he founded in 1974 and turned into a trailblazer in the generic pharmaceutical business. Apotex has more than 10,000 employees worldwide, with annual revenues of US$1.6 billion.
Many of the 6,000 people who attended the Shermans’ memorial service were Apotex employees, recognizable because they were wearing the corporate colour blue. Questions have swirled about the company’s plan for a future without its hard-working founder.
Desai has been caught up in a legal dispute with Apotex competitor Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. over trade secrets that his romantic partner, then-Teva employee Barinder Sandhu, allegedly leaked to him, allegations that have not been proven in court and that Apotex has filed a motion to dismiss. The case is currently in the pre-trial discovery phase.
Israel-based Teva filed the complaint in July, claiming Sandhu had been improperly using cloud storage, USB keys and other methods to transfer confidential documents from her work computer to Desai.
Teva alleges those documents included a communication from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about Product X, a generic drug it was developing. Teva alleges Desai and other Apotex employees circulated the document and discussed how to use it to improve sales of a competing product.
“Teva USA has suffered and will continue to suffer incalculable financial losses, imminent and permanent irreparable harm, loss of the confidentiality of its trade secrets and other continuing harm and damages in an amount to be determined at trial,” Teva’s lawyers said in the complaint.
Apotex responded by arguing the lawsuit should be dismissed because Teva didn’t provide enough detail about when and how Sandhu allegedly misappropriated the trade secrets, what those trade secrets were and how the Canadian company is using them. “Teva’s complaint and its 60 paragraphs based on “information and belief” lacks sufficient facts to withstand scrutiny,” Apotex’s lawyers wrote in their response.
Teva spokesperson Kaelan Hollon declined to comment on Desai’s resignation. A lawyer for Teva did not respond to a request for comment.