Apotex president and CEO steps down amid allegations of trade secret leaks
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, January 26, 2018 12:52PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 26, 2018 4:11PM EST
TORONTO -- Apotex Inc. president and CEO Jeremy Desai resigned from the generic drug giant Friday while facing a lawsuit alleging he and the company accepted trade secrets leaked from a competitor.
The lawsuit from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. accuses Barinder Sandhu, who worked as a senior director of regulatory affairs for Teva's U.S. generics division, of leaking trade secrets and other confidential information to Desai while being in a romantic relationship with him.
The allegations have not been proven in court and Apotex, Sandhu and Desai have filed motions to dismiss the complaint.
The lawsuit, filed last July in a Pennsylvania federal court, alleges Sandhu used email and USB drives to send Desai confidential information including the regulatory status of drugs and information on the development of a new generic drug.
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.
Apotex spokesman Jordan Berman said the privately-owned company does not comment on matters before the court and 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 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.
The shift in management comes as the company grapples with the loss of Apotex founder and chairman Barry Sherman and his wife Honey, who were found dead in their Toronto home on Dec. 15 from "ligature neck compression."
Police said Friday they believe Sherman and his wife were both murdered.
Sherman, who started 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.