Jeremy Desai resigns as CEO of Apotex, the drug company founded by Barry Sherman

Apotex Inc. president and CEO Jeremy Desai resigned effective immediately Friday from the generic drug giant founded by billionaire Barry Sherman, who was found slain in his home on Dec. 15.

Desai’s resignation comes as he faces allegations in a U.S. lawsuit from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. for allegedly accepting trade secrets from a Teva employee that he was thought to be in a romantic relationship with.

The lawsuit, filed last July in a Pennsylvania Federal Court, accuses Barinder Sandhu, who worked as a senior director of regulatory affairs for Teva’s U.S. generics division, of sharing trade secrets and other confidential information about Teva’s product development with its competitor Apotex through Desai.

The legal filings accuse Sandhu of uploading some 900 Teva corporate files to a cloud-based storage system between October 2014 and August 2016.

Teva said it learned of the alleged breach from a former Apotex employee and launched an investigation that found emails sent from Sandhu to Desai from her work computer.

The Israel-based pharmaceutical company said in the lawsuit that it’s seeking damages from Desai and Apotex for “wilful and malicious misappropriation” of trade secrets.

“Apotex and Desai used and continue to use Teva USA’s trade secrets and other confidential information to benefit Apotex’s own competitive product development, thereby allowing Desai and Apotex to improperly profit at Teva USA’s expense,” the lawsuit states.

The allegations have not been proven in court and Apotex filed a motion to dismiss the complaint as being based on insufficient facts to withstand scrutiny.

Apotex spokesperson Jordan Berman declined to provide details on Desai’s departure other than to note he left “to pursue other opportunities.”

“We thank Jeremy for his contributions and wish him success in the next phase of his career,” Berman said in an email.

Apotex said Friday that Jack Kay, who previously served as CEO for the privately held company, will once again step into the chief executive role while also maintaining his current position as vice-chairman.

Jeff Watson, who has spent 25 years with the company including most recently as president of global generics, has been appointed to the role of president and chief operating officer.

Barry Sherman and his wife Honey were found dead in their Toronto home on Dec. 15, with the cause of death determined to be “ligature neck compression.”

Police said Friday they are now investigating the deaths as a double homicide.

Sherman, who founded Apotex in 1974 and built it into a company with more than $ 2 billion in annual revenue, hadn’t been involved in day-to-day operations since stepping down as CEO five years ago.

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CBC | Health News