Founder of APOTEX, Toronto billionaire and philanthropist Barry Sherman and his wife were found dead in their mansion on Friday and police said they were investigating the deaths as suspicious.
The couple were found hanging side by side next to their indoor pool.The Shermans were among Canada’s most generous philanthropists and also organized funding of charitable causes through the Apotex Foundation. The couple made numerous multimillion-dollar donations to hospitals, schools and charities and had buildings named in their honour.
Const. David Hopkinson would not identify the two bodies found at the home of Apotex founder Bernard “Barry” Sherman and his wife, Honey. But Ontario’s health minister said the couple had been discovered dead. Hopkinson noted that it was early in the police investigation.Also an outpouring of grief-stricken friends and colleagues confirmed it was Bernard Sherman, known as Barry, founder and chairman of the Apotex generic drug empire, and his wife, Honey.
Hopkinson said at a news conference held outside the couple’s home, “The circumstances of their death appear suspicious and we are treating it that way.Our investigators are inside investigating and taking apart the scene.”
Hopkinson said police were called to the Shermans’ home in an upscale neighbourhood of north Toronto just before noon on Friday in response to a “medical complaint.”
He declined to say whether the bodies showed signs of trauma and did not provide details on the time or cause of death.
Hopkinson said the deaths are not currently being treated as homicides, adding that more investigation will be necessary.Officers are not canvassing widely for suspects or warning residents of danger suggests investigators believe it may be suicide or murder-suicide.
“There may be suspicious circumstances. It’s an investigative tool,” he said. “Until we know exactly how they died, we treat it as suspicious. Once a determination has been made by the pathologist and the coroner, then we move forward from there.”
Barry Sherman founded Toronto-based Apotex Inc. in 1974 with two employees and gradually turned it into the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company.
Along the way he amassed a vast fortune, recently estimated by Canadian Business magazine at $4.77 billion, making him the 15th richest person in the country.
Sherman faced legal action from family members alleging they had been cut out of the company over the years.
As a producer of more than 300 generic pharmaceutical products, Apotex has itself seen a fair number of litigation issues, as companies have pushed back on its efforts to sell cheaper no-name options.
One of the most high-profile of those clashes occurred when pharma giant Bristol-Myers Squibb sued Apotex in 2006 to try and stop it from selling the first generic form of the heart-disease treatment Plavix.
Today, the company has more than 10,000 people in research, development, manufacturing and distribution facilities world-wide, with more than 6,000 employees at its Canadian operations. Those include manufacturing and research facilities concentrated in the Toronto area as well as in Winnipeg.
Sherman’s wife, Honey, was a member of the board of the Baycrest Foundation and the York University Foundation. She also served on the boards of Mount Sinai’s Women’s Auxiliary, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the International American Joint Distribution Committee.
The address where the bodies were found was recently listed for sale for $6.9 million. Neighbours confirmed that the property was the couple’s home.