Who could have murdered billionaire Barry Sherman and wife Honey, two of Canada’s leading philanthropists? – Part 1: the brand-name drug companies

Who murdered Canadian billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife Honey in December 2017?

Police do not have an answer.

The couple were found dead in their mansion in Toronto, Canada, on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. By the next day, media reports said that their bodies were discovered “hanging side by side” next to the indoor swimming pool, by Judi Gottlieb, a real estate agent and the couple’s friend who was helping them sell their home, which was listed on the market for $6.9 million. A police source told the media:

“Forensics need to be done and post-mortems on the bodies, but at this stage it appears there was no forced entry and no evidence of anybody else in the house”.

(“Billionaire Couple Found Dead in Toronto Mansion”, by Tom Ozimek, December 16, 2017, The Epoch Times)

Oddly, police initially referred to the deaths as a “medial incident”, describing them as “suspicious” but did not call them homicides:

“Two bodies were found at 50 Old Colony Road in the North York area of the Canadian city on Friday after police received a call around 11:45 a.m. detailing a medical incident at the home, Toronto Police Constable David Hopkinson said at a press conference Friday afternoon.

Investigators described the deaths as “suspicious” but said it is too early to deem them homicides, Hopkinson said. The homicide unit has not yet been called in, he added.”

(“Billionaire Barry Sherman, wife found dead in their Toronto mansion, officials say”, by Julia Jacobo, December 16, 2017, ABC News)

Though police initially did not disclose the identities of the deceased, the Shermans’ deaths were immediately confirmed by Dr. Eric Hoskins, the province of Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, on Twitter. Hoskins described Barry and Honey Sherman as “my dear friends”:

“I am beyond words right now. My dear friends Barry and Honey Sherman have been found dead. Wonderful human beings, incredible philanthropists, great leaders in health care. A very, very sad day. Barry, Honey, rest in peace.”

(Julia Jacobo, December 16, 2017, ABC News)

In that evening also on Twitter, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed condolences by him and wife Sophie to the Shermans’ family and friends:

“Sophie and I are saddened by news of the sudden passing of Barry and Honey Sherman. Our condolences to their family & friends, and to everyone touched by their vision & spirit.”

(Julia Jacobo, December 16, 2017, ABC News)

Barry and Honey Sherman had played a prominent local role in Toronto supporting the ultimately successful election campaign of the Canadian Liberal Party, hosting a $1,500 per person fundraising party for then party leader Trudeau on August 26, 2015 at their home – the very house where they were later found dead in 2017 – despite boycott and protest by some of their Jewish community friends opposing the Liberal Party’s policies on Iran:

“About 30 protesters from the Jewish Defence League lined the street out front of Sherman’s lavish north Toronto home, holding Israeli and Canadian flags.

“Enjoy the food,” a man holding an Israeli flag yelled as guests walked up the driveway, past a line of valets. Tickets for the party and opportunity to meet leader Justin Trudeau reportedly went for $1,500 each.

One guest stopped and smiled at a protester in the picket line. “Joel? What are you doing here?”

The protester, Joel Goldman, said he was there because he didn’t support the Liberals’ position on the Iran nuclear deal.

“They’re just coming to see Mick Jagger tonight,” Goldman said after his friend went inside. “They’re coming to see a rock star.”

The Liberals have pledged to reopen diplomatic ties with Iran and have welcomed the new Iranian nuclear deal.”

(“Justin Trudeau fundraiser picketed by Jewish group over Liberals’ support for Iran nuclear deal”, by Jake Edmiston, August 26/27, 2015, National Post)

Two days after the deaths were discovered, on December 17 police confirmed the identities of the deceased in a statement that also corroborated earlier media reports of hanging, describing the cause of deaths as “ligature neck compression”, stating that homicide detectives had now taken the lead in the investigation:

“Police issued a brief statement on Sunday saying the couple, whose bodies were found on Friday, both died from “ligature neck compression,” but the department refused to comment further.

“That is what the post-mortem indicates and that is the terminology that they give us,” Const. Michelle Flannery said when asked to elaborate on findings from autopsies performed over the weekend.

Police also said homicide detectives have taken the lead on investigating the deaths, which have been classified as “suspicious.”

The statement contained no other details, except to formally identify the Shermans as the two people found dead in a Toronto home on Friday.”

(“Police are investigating the ‘suspicious’ deaths of Toronto billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman”, by Adrian Humphreys and Jake Edmiston, December 15/17, 2017, National Post)

A Toronto Police source told The Globe and Mail that “investigators are working on the theory that Mr. Sherman killed his wife, hung her body and then hanged himself at the pool’s edge”, citing the fact that there was no sign of forced entry into the house:

“A Toronto police source told the Globe investigators are working on the theory that Mr. Sherman killed his wife and then took his own life.

Police services spokesman Mark Pugash would not confirm details of the case, only stating the homicide squad is in overall charge of the investigation because it has better resources than the local police station, 33 Division.

“Homicide is working with 33 Division on this until we get the post mortem. When we get the post-mortem result, that should give us a good indication of where the investigation goes from there,” he told The Globe.

There was no sign of forced entry to the home. There was no note left behind to explain what had happened, the source said.”

(“Family urges ‘thorough’ investigation into deaths of Apotex CEO Barry Sherman, wife Honey”, by Tavia Grant, Kelly Grant and Jeff Gray, December 16/17, 2017, The Globe and Mail)

The Sherman family members were outraged by the media-reported police notion of “murder-suicide”, rejecting it in a statement issued by the four children of Barry and Honey Sherman:

“The family of Canadian-Jewish billionaire couple Barry and Honey Sherman, found dead at their home in Toronto on Friday, have slammed the police for allegedly circulating rumors that their death was a murder-suicide.

In a statement, the family rejected the account – attributed to “police sources” in the local media – that Barry Sherman may have murdered his wife, hanged her body and then himself from a railing that surrounded their basement pool.

The Shermans’ four children said their parents “shared an enthusiasm for life and commitment to their family and community totally inconsistent with the rumors regrettably circulated in the media as to the circumstances surrounding their deaths.”

They added: “We are shocked and think it’s irresponsible that police sources have reportedly advised the media of a theory which neither their family, their friends nor their colleagues believe to be true.”

(“As Canada’s Jewish Community Mourns, Sherman Family Slams Police for ‘Murder-suicide’ Rumor”, by Allison Kaplan Sommer and Reuters, December 19, 2017, Haaretz)

The Sherman family hired experts, including former Toronto Police homicide detectives, to conduct a independent investigation. In late January 2018, a source with direct knowledge of the private probe told the media that the probe found evidence of the Sherman couple having been murdered by “multiple killers”, likely on December 13, the last day they were seen alive:

“Private investigators believe that the billionaire Toronto couple found dead at their home in December were murdered by multiple killers, a source with direct knowledge of the parallel probe into their mysterious deaths told CBC Toronto.

The new information contradicts a widely circulated theory that Barry and Honey Sherman died as a result of a murder-suicide — a notion that is regarded as fiction by those who knew the Shermans well.

The Sherman family has hired a team of experts, which includes a number of former Toronto homicide detectives, to conduct a separate, independent investigation.

Their wrists showed evidence that they had been, at one point, bound together. No rope or other materials that could have been used to tie their wrists were discovered, the source told CBC Toronto.

The team of private investigators believes that the Shermans were, in fact, killed on Dec. 13, two days before they were found. This conclusion is based on the fact that Honey was wearing the same clothes she was last seen in, on Dec. 13, according to the source.

Private investigators also believe that Honey struggled with her killer or killers. She had cuts on her lip and nose, and was sitting in a pool of her own blood when she was discovered. …”

(“Barry and Honey Sherman were murdered by multiple killers, private investigators believe: source”, January 20/23, 2018, CBC News)

Only after media reporting of the private investigation findings did the Toronto Police confirm that the deaths were now being investigated as a “double homicide”, and a “targeted” attack. The Sherman family issued a statement saying that this was the family’s conclusion “from the outset” and was “consistent” with the private investigation’s findings:

“Toronto police believe Barry and Honey Sherman were victims of a targeted attack and are treating their deaths as murders, the lead investigator said Friday afternoon.

The Sherman family released a statement after the police news conference.

“The announcement by the Toronto Police Service that the tragic deaths of their parents are being investigated as a double homicide was anticipated by the Sherman family,” the statement read. “This conclusion was expressed by the family from the outset and is consistent with the findings of the independent autopsy and investigation.”

(“Double homicide investigation: Barry and Honey Sherman ‘targeted’, police confirm”, by Kevin Donovan, January 26, 2018, The Hamilton Spectator)

So who were billionaire Barry Sherman and wife Honey, a wealthy and prominent Canadian couple who met such a brutal and indignant end?

75-year-old Barry Sherman was the founder and owner of the Canadian pharmaceutical giant Apotex Inc., which he founded in 1974 and grew into the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company, producing and marketing more than 300 generic drug products.

According to the December 2017 National Post story by Adrian Humphreys and Jake Edmiston cited earlier, Canadian Business magazine had recently assessed Sherman’s fortune at $4.77 billion CAD, ranking him the 15th richest in Canada. The earlier-cited December 2017 Haaretz story by Allison Kaplan Sommer reported Forbes magazine’s ranking of Sherman as the 12th richest Canadian and 660th among the world’s wealthiest billionaires.

But in reporting their deaths, the media emphasized the praises given to the Shermans by prominent politicians and community leaders, for their renowned generosity – “incredible philanthropists” as Ontario Health Minister Hoskins was quoted as saying.

Canadian Senator Linda Frum, a family friend of the Shermans, said of Barry Sherman the businessman and philanthropist:

“He liked to make money because he loved giving money away — and he did, he gave away very generously”.

(Adrian Humphreys and Jake Edmiston, December 15/17, 2017, National Post)

70-year-old Honey Sherman was a board member of several notable non-profit organizations, including the York University Foundation and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Their deaths were a devastating loss to both the Jewish community and the broader community in Toronto because the couple were “among the most active and generous philanthropists”, said Senator Frum: 

“The Jewish community and the broader community in Toronto are going to be devastated by this loss because they were among the most active and generous philanthropists. For them, community involvement wasn’t just about giving their money, they took a profound and deep interest in almost every institution and organization they supported”.

(Adrian Humphreys and Jake Edmiston, December 15/17, 2017, National Post)

Indeed, Toronto’s Jewish community was stunned by the Shermans’ deaths. Flags were lowered to half-mast at Toronto’s Sherman Campus, which houses a United Jewish Appeal Federation headquarters, a Jewish community center, the community’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and Jewish family services and other agencies.

Eli Rubenstein, national director of March of the Living Canada, described the Shermans as “among the leading philanthropists in Canada”, maybe “the most generous” and “definitely among the most generous”:

“The Shermans are among the leading philanthropists in Canada. They may be the most generous in the country, and definitely among the most generous”.

(Allison Kaplan Sommer and Reuters, December 19, 2017, Haaretz)

Rubenstein noted that in addition to their donations to Jewish charities, the couple supported a “host of universal causes”, especially “Holocaust education” because Honey Sherman had been born in a European displaced persons camp to parents who had survived the Holocaust.

(Allison Kaplan Sommer and Reuters, December 19, 2017, Haaretz)

According to an August 2017 story in The Canadian Jewish News, Barry Sherman had donated a record amount of $50 million to the United Jewish Appeal, his Apotex Foundation had donated more than $50 million worth of medicines internationally in the past 10 years, and he was proud that Apotex was “recognized as the No. 1 pharmaceutical company in Canada for total corporate donations”:

“Over the years, Sherman has demonstrated that community is as important to him as success in business. He has been a community leader and shared his wealth generously with the community. He is a major contributor to Jewish organizations, including the UJA – to which he has donated a recorded amount of $50 million – and the Joint Distribution Committee.

He and his wife, Honey, have donated millions to medical research and health-care facilities – including an important addition to Baycrest – and community centres in Toronto and elsewhere.

Sherman also gives through his company, Apotex, and the Apotex Foundation. “One of our major community contributions are to the United Way,” Sherman states on the Apotex website. “We are proud to be recognized as the No. 1 pharmaceutical company in Canada for total corporate donations, being one of the few companies in the country to raise over $1 million.”

The Apotex Foundation is a privately held charitable organization, which has donated more than $50 million in medicines over the last 10 years. Critical medicines have been shipped to every disaster zone around the globe to provide assistance to humans in need.”

(“Barry Sherman ranks High both in wealth and philanthropy”, by Myron Love, August 19, 2017, The Canadian Jewish News)

The Shermans’ “legacy of giving and selfless dedication” was also the focus of their public funeral in December 2017, which was “attended by more than 6,500 and live-streamed”, including many of the business and political elite.

(“The other side of Barry Sherman”, by Anne Kingston and Michael Friscolanti, April 5, 2018, Maclean’s)

Prime Minister Trudeau, Senator Frum, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Health Minister Hoskins and Toronto Mayor John Tory were among the attendees. In her eulogy, Premier Wynne urged all to follow the example of the Shermans’, who had been “full of compassion, hope and generosity”:

“Wynne urged mourners to follow the Shermans’ example: “May we all be inspired to live as they did. Full of compassion, hope and generosity.””

(“‘Painful and so bizarrely surreal’: Thousands mourn deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman”, by Andrea Janus and Nick Boisvert, December 21, 2017, CBC News

In their eulogies, Sherman family members and friends, including Senator Frum and Mayor Tory, reminisced about the couple’s generosity, like Mary Shechtman recalled about her sister Honey, “She wanted to give everything to everybody”:

“Tory told mourners he was “profoundly saddened” by the deaths of the Shermans, and paid tribute to their dedication to bettering their city, and their country.

Long before he was in politics, Tory would ask the couple for support for various charitable projects, “and rarely if ever went away without some support,” he said.

Joel Ulster, who called himself Barry Sherman’s oldest friend, described him not only as “the smartest person, but much more importantly, he had the biggest heart.”

The Shermans not only gave millions to charities, he noted, they also helped many people quietly and privately, he said.

“Our hearts are broken.”

Sen. Linda Frum, said it was “a privilege” to call the Shermans friends, and reminisced about Honey Sherman’s kindness. …

“It was easy to love Honey and everybody did.”

Honey Sherman’s sister, Mary Shechtman, tearfully recalled how her relationship with her sister was marked by two favourite things: laughing and shopping.

“She just wanted to make everybody happy,” Shechtman said through tears. “She wanted to give everything to everybody.””

(Andrea Janus and Nick Boisvert, December 21, 2017, CBC News)

At the funeral, the Shermans’ son Jonathan announced the creation of a new philanthropic foundation in their parents’ name: The Honey and Barry Foundation of Giving.

Such exemplary spirits of giving!

Shortly before their unexpected and shocking deaths, the Shermans had been prominently honoured by the Canadian parliament and government.

On November 29, Honey and Barry Sherman had been awarded a Senate 150 Anniversary Medal for their being “among Canada’s most generous philanthropists” – as a couple given one of “twelve medals to twelve individuals” awarded by Senator Frum.

(“Senate 150 Anniversary Medal”, November 29, 2017, Senator Linda Frum)

Also in November 2017, the Canadian government had made the decision to name Barry Sherman to the Order of Canada, with the appointment signed by Governor General Julie Payette before their deaths. That prior timing turned out to be necessary for this high honour to be bestowed posthumously:

“In a statement issued on Saturday evening, the family of Barry and Honey Sherman said that news that their late father has been appointed to the Order of Canada, which was made public on Friday, provides them some comfort during a “most difficult time.”

“To receive this honour posthumously speaks volumes about our father and confirms what we have always known, he was a true humanitarian and a great Canadian,” the statement from Sherman’s family reads. “We take comfort knowing that his countless contributions to healthcare and philanthropy have been memorialized in such an enduring manner.”

The Order of Canada cannot be awarded to someone after their death but the committee charged with deciding who gets the award actually granted it to Barry Sherman at a meeting in November and Governor General Julie Payette signed the appointment prior to his death.

In their statement, Sherman’s family note that the Order of Canada is “one of this nation’s highest honours.””

(“Family of Barry Sherman say Order of Canada appointment ‘speaks volumes’ about father”, by Chris Fox, December 30, 2017, CP24 News)

The Sherman family had reasons to be appreciative, or at least “take comfort” as they said, cited above. Had these Canadian official gestures not been made in November 2017, these two leading Canadian philanthropists would have forever missed the high and enduring national  honours several weeks later when their “targeted” double homicide occurred in December.

One cannot help but wonder: Who could have committed such a cruel and heinous crime? Who could have murdered the beloved Barry and Honey Sherman, who had been – as praised by Senator Linda Frum and Jewish community leader Eli Rubenstein – among “the leading philanthropists” and “the most active and generous philanthropists” in Canada?

According to a Maclean’s investigative article published in April 2018, police did not have an easy answer about this crime and were thus also looking into the broader circumstances:

“The ongoing investigation into the Shermans’ deaths now casts a harsher spotlight on their lives as police try to answer why the couple were victims of a “targeted” attack…”

(Anne Kingston and Michael Friscolanti, April 5, 2018, Maclean’s)

The article mentioned the huge amount of police resources allocated to the case:

“… The mystery deepens as each day passes, with no arrests or known suspects. An affidavit filed in court by a Toronto police officer detailed resources being deployed: 51 officers working the case, combing through more than 2,000 hours of security footage, with “474 investigative actions” being “vigorously pursued,” 240 people interviewed or identified to be interviewed. More warrants and “covert tactics” to track down the killers are expected. …”

(Anne Kingston and Michael Friscolanti, April 5, 2018, Maclean’s)

Intriguingly, when considering the broader, albeit hypothetical, question of “who could have murdered” the Shermans, it will become clear – as I review the relevant media coverage, past and present – that, despite all the high praises the couple have received, there have also been no shortage of persons and organizations that hated Barry Sherman.

The Maclean’s investigative article pointed out that two decades ago Sherman himself had said he could be a murder target for his work in the pharmaceutical industry, and that since then his list of enemies has grown even longer:

“Two decades ago, Sherman himself admitted he could be a target for murder. “For a thousand bucks paid to the right person, you can probably get someone killed. Perhaps I’m surprised that hasn’t happened,” he told author Jeffrey Robinson in the 2001 book Prescription Games: Money, Ego and Power Inside the Pharmaceutical Industry. After that, his list of adversaries only grew, as privately held Apotex expanded into more than 100 countries, including Mexico and India, and began developing a cannabis-based pill. …”

(Anne Kingston and Michael Friscolanti, April 5, 2018, Maclean’s)

A paradoxical and unpleasant scenario to contemplate, that Sherman may have been a murder target for his work when his pharmaceutical company benefited people in so many countries.

A potential explanation is that, while he was adored by those close to him Barry Sherman was also loathed by others and was accused by some as “unethical in business dealings”, according to the Maclean’s article:

“… A renowned risk-taker, disruptor and pitbull professionally, Sherman was a polarizing figure—regarded as a softie with a heart of gold by those in his proximity and loathed by those who claim they were outfoxed or betrayed by him. The man who learned weeks before his death of his nomination to the Order of Canada was also called out as unethical in business dealings. …”

(Anne Kingston and Michael Friscolanti, April 5, 2018, Maclean’s)

Hmm, so the Order of Canada was bestowed on a businessman who had been regarded as “a softie with a heart of gold” by some but had also been “called out as unethical in business dealings” by others, and who was soon murdered alongside his wife in what the police have called “a targeted attack”!

While such an alternative depiction would be unflattering of Sherman, interestingly in his eulogy at the Shermans’ funeral Apotex president and COO Jack Kay said something subtly that could be interpreted similarly, that Barry Sherman was “kind of a teddy bear in real life, but with a mind like a steel trap and the stubbornness of a bull”:

“Apotex president and COO Jack Kay, his voice breaking numerous times, reminisced about 35 years of both a business and personal relationship with Barry Sherman and his family. In 1982, Sherman interviewed Kay in Montreal for a vice-president’s job at Apotex, and ended their conversation by saying: “Come move to Toronto and we will build this company and have a lot of fun and make a lot of money.”

He noted Sherman’s vast intellect, devotion to hard work and love of his family and friends.

“Barry was just a regular guy,” Kay said. “He was kind of a teddy bear in real life, but with a mind like a steel trap and the stubbornness of a bull. He changed my life, and I’m so very grateful to have shared those years with him.””

(Andrea Janus and Nick Boisvert, December 21, 2017, CBC News)

Still, at first glance at the facts as recently reported in the media, it isn’t immediately obvious how unethical Sherman was in his pharmaceutical business practice, other than that he was a man in many legal disputes.

Sherman’s privately-owned Apotex has launched an astonishingly large number of lawsuits over the years, more than 1,200 in the Federal Court of Canada alone since 1990:

“Launched in 1974, it was a corporation in constant battle mode: against Big Pharma, against government regulators, against anyone who dared question the founder’s pure intentions. He touted himself as a patent-busting underdog, the courtroom crusader bravely suing the Mercks and Pfizers and Bayers of the world so he could provide needy patients with cheaper generics. “If we’re thieves, we’re Robin Hoods,” he once claimed. Winning in the courts was so crucial to his success that he liked to tell his employees they worked for a legal company that happened to sell medications.

Sherman railed against “incompetent” bureaucrats who had the audacity to disagree with his interpretations of federal drug law—and he dragged them to court, too. In Federal Court alone, Apotex has launched more than 1,200 legal actions, including 83 against Health Canada since 1990. A ministry spokesman says “because of the high volume of cases,” officials can’t even begin to calculate how many millions Sherman’s litigation has cost Canadian taxpayers. …”

(Anne Kingston and Michael Friscolanti, April 5, 2018, Maclean’s)

As told above, Sherman prided himself and his company as “Robin Hoods” expanding the consumer reach of their cheaper generic drugs; he and his company were in “constant battle mode” using legal litigation as a mighty weapon, against Big Pharma – the international pharmaceutical giants that dwarf his Canadian generic drug company – government regulators, and anyone who dared to stand in their way.

Sherman’s litigations have cost Canadian taxpayers “many millions”, according to a government spokesman. But while that may have been true, from the standpoint of Barry Sherman and Apotex the many legal battles were a necessity.

When Sherman admitted he could be a murder target, as cited earlier from a Maclean’s investigative article, he did so to Jeffrey Robinson, author of the book Prescription Games: Money, Ego and Power inside the Global Pharmaceutical Industry, who interviewed him.

As excerpted from the 2001 book, an enormous amount of legal litigation is what a generic drug company had to endure to be successful because a generic drug is a “copycat” of a brand-name drug, the generic drug company must not infringe on existing drug patents and the determination is through legal battles:

“A generic drug is a copycat version of a branded drug, permitted to come onto the market as soon as the branded drug goes off patent, but only on the condition that the copycat is “bioequivalent” with the original, which means the generic version must be more than just a chemical copy. It has to be as safe and effective as the branded drug and act in exactly the same way. It must contain an identical amount of active ingredient and must be in the same dosage. A generic must also meet standards for “bioavailability,” meaning that it must deliver the same exact amount of the active ingredient into the bloodstream and in very nearly the exact same time, within a narrowly defined margin of difference.

Because the generic manufacturers have not had to undergo huge R&D expenses or vastly complicated clinical trials, building a generic costs considerably less than developing a branded drug. Where Merck may spend $300 million on researching and developing a drug, Apotex can get its generic version on the market for around $1 million.

But first the generic company has to get past the branded companies’ lawyers.”

(Jeffrey Robinson, Prescription Games: Money, Ego and Power inside the Global Pharmaceutical Industry, 2001, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

I find that author Jeffrey Robinson’s very precise definition of the technical requirements for a generic drug, quoted above, needs to be clarified, namely that in practice an Apotex generic drug may not necessarily contain “an identical amount of active ingredient” as the brand-name drug.

In the following example in a legal dispute between GlaxoSmithKline and Apotex in 2003, that Big Pharma company was unable to prove to the court that Apotex’s generic version of the brand-name drug Paxil actually contained sufficient amounts of the patented active ingredient:

“Barry Sherman, chief executive of privately held Apotex, said the company is “elated” with the ruling of the U.S. federal court in Chicago, but could not pinpoint a launch date for its version of Paxil.

Federal court Judge Richard Posner found that while Glaxo’s patent is valid, the Middlesex, England-based company could not prove that Apotex’s version contains sufficient amounts of patented active ingredient hemihydrate to constitute an infringement.

The ruling says TorPharm Pharmaceuticals did not infringe the Glaxo patent with its own drug. TorPharm is a subsidiary of Apotex Inc.

Glaxo said it would appeal while it continues to defend the Paxil patent in a separate case.”

(“Apotex wins dispute with Glaxo: Legal action over Paxil still pending”, by Michael Lewis, March 5, 2003, National Post)

Clearly, if a generic version did not contain sufficient amounts of a key active ingredient of a brand-name drug, the generic quite likely would not be as “effective as the branded drug”, let alone “act in exactly the same way” as stipulated in the earlier quote from Robinson’s book.

Also quoted in Robinson’s book, Barry Sherman extensively lamented about how difficult it was to invest in the health-care industry in Canada, pinpointing the main unfavourable factors as the anti-competitive government regulations and the brand-name drug companies’ “pseudogenerics”, as well as the brand-name drug companies’ legal tactics:

“The entire generic industry is, Sherman says with obvious frustration, “Unsustainable. The combination of the anti-competitive regulations and the pseudogenerics, those two factors make it impossible to continue to invest in the health-care industry in Canada. As a result of which, the monopolies will go on forever. No one will invest in new products because you won’t be able to get it onto the market.”

Pseudogenerics are the branded companies’ own drug, repackaged as a generic, brought to the market a few months before the generic company can launch its own version.

“Or they hang us up in court. … Whether you’re right or wrong, when you get to court it’s fifty-fifty. You’ve got a non-infringing process and they’ll get a Nobel laureate to swear that the moon is made of cheese. So even if you’ve got 99 per cent certainty that you’re not infringing, you know they’re going to sue you anyway and so you’re off the market for that period of time with no revenue to pay for the litigation. Under any normal scenario, you just launch the product, then you litigate, and if you lose at the end of the day you give up your profits. In this country it’s rigged against us. We have to carry all the expenses, have no sales to deduct that from, and if we’re stopped because the court rules against us, then we’ve lost all of our investment, not just the profit but all of our investment. And that means we can’t invest.””

(Jeffrey Robinson, 2001, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

I find it interesting that Sherman’s view of leading scientists was so unflattering, that the branded companies would get a Nobel laureate “to swear in court that the moon is made of cheese”, i.e., to speak totally without scientific integrity.

Here are some of my interpretations of Sherman’s words quoted above: one, upon the launch of a generic drug the company would be sued by the brand-name drug company regardless of whether patents were infringed, and so Sherman’s company chose to “just launch the product” first and then litigate; and, two, in Canada the “anti-competitive regulations” kept the generic drugs off the market during a legal dispute, and so his company also sued the government for that reason.

Barry Sherman sounded very competitive but not exactly “unethical”, or at least not like “a Nobel laureate” that he belittled.

Shortly after the Shermans’ murder, Amir Attaran, a professor of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa, disputed the public image of Barry Sherman and Apotex as legal fighters bringing cheaper drugs to Canadians. Generic drugs in Canada are among the most expensive generics in the world, according to Attaran:

““I think he was probably the most active litigant in any industry in Canada,” said Amir Attaran, a professor in the faculties of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa.

“I practise in Federal Court, and there’s no one else in Federal Court whose name is attached to more cases that I know of.”

“That’s how they spin it. He was always in court fighting for Canadians to get cheaper drugs,” Attaran said.

“That is outrageous fabrication. Because for all his efforts being the biggest generic drug company in Canada, having the greatest influence of any company in Canada over generic drugs, Canada pays among the highest prices in the world for generics. And that has been documented again and again.””

(“When it came to launching legal battles, Apotex founder Barry Sherman was ‘absolutely singular’”, by Victoria Gibson and Jacques Gallant, December 22, 2017, Toronto Star)

That public image was “outrageous fabrication” because “Canada pays among the highest prices in the world for generics. And that has been documented again and again.”

Now that begins to look not so ethical about Barry Sherman, i.e., fighting many legal battles to push his company’s generic drugs onto the market but not passing on the gains to the Canadian consumers – not a “Robin Hood” if Attaran’s view is right.

Attaran also called Sherman “unethical in business”:

“Apotex has been involved in more than a thousand court cases in Canada, using the legal system to aggressively challenge drug patents.

“It definitely makes it the most litigious pharma company in Canada and probably the most litigious company period,” says University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran.

“It’s fair to observe the way he did business he would have had many enemies,” he says.

Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the world for generic drugs, and Attaran argues Sherman’s business practices contributed to that.

“He was unethical in business. His drugs were overpriced and gouged Canadians,” he said on Twitter.

(“Barry and Honey Sherman: The mystery of the strangled billionaires”, by Jessica Murphy, February 4, 2018, BBC News)

As Attaran observed about Sherman in the above, “the way he did business he would have had many enemies”. This observation points to a possible connection between the Shermans’ murder and Barry Sherman’s way of conducting business.

But “price gouging” as Attaran accused Sherman of would have been ripping off many more Canadians.

Nonetheless, again, the perspectives from Sherman’s standpoint were quite the opposite. In the last quote earlier from Robinson’s 2001 book, Sherman was quoted as saying that it was difficult to invest in the Canadian health-care industry to make a profit.

Here is a more objective description by Robinson in his book, of Apotex’s drug prices and profitability:

“… Sherman brought generic drugs to market, charged 70 to 80 per cent of the brand price, took half the market share, and steered Apotex through sixteen years of strong growth.”

(Jeffrey Robinson, 2001, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

No doubt Apotex’s half share of the entire Canadian market and “sixteen years of strong growth” indicated strong profitability. Perhaps 70-80% of the brand-name drug price was still, as Attaran has said, “among the highest prices in the world for generics”, which would mean that Sherman and Apotex did not pass enough of the profits to the Canadian consumers.

But if one reads more carefully his words earlier quoted from Robinson’s book, Sherman’s main preoccupation did not seem to be on cheaper drugs, but on breaking “the monopolies” of the brand-name drug companies.

Another quote of him here from Robinson’s book confirms that Sherman’s higher priorities were expanding the Canadian drug industry and creating pharmaceutical jobs in Canada:

“The generic industry is vital to Canada. When I say vital I’m talking about high-tech employment, research, and saving money for the health-care system. I’ve spent thirty years building this fantastic industry in Canada, we employ thousand of people, we save billions of dollars for the health-care system, we’ve done all the right things…”

(Jeffrey Robinson, 2001, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

I can interpret Sherman’s priorities stated above as: this fantastic generic industry in Canada, high-tech employment, research and – then – cheaper health-care.

And I would not be surprised if Sherman indeed directed Apotex’s business strategies and finance in that priority order.

In fact, after Sherman’s murder, author Jeffrey Robinson again restated Sherman’s agenda in that order, “creating jobs in Canada” and “protecting the little guy against big pharma”:

““Barry Sherman was constantly at war with everybody and when I talked to him, he had an agenda, ‘I’m creating jobs in Canada’, ‘I’m protecting the little guy against big pharma’,” Robinson recalled.

“He was basically saying, ‘it’s me against the world.’””

(“SHERMAN MURDERS: Did organized crime kill billionaire?”, by Brad Hunter, February 1, 2018, Toronto Sun)

So, it wasn’t fully ethical when Barry Sherman and Apotex emphasized so much to the public – probably in their advertising mode – as noted by Attaran, that they fought hard in court to bring cheaper drugs to Canadians. But when he was interviewed for a book on the pharmaceutical industry, Sherman did carefully phrase his objectives.

Now, all that legal fighting must have also come with huge legal costs, which would have reduced the amount of savings that could have been passed on to the Canadian consumers.

Shortly after the Shermans’ murder, Toronto Life magazine republished a 2008 article on the Shermans, that included a succinct description of what Apotex achieved and how it did it, citing a few telling numbers:

“When Sherman founded the company in 1974, generic drugs were generally dismissed as flawed imitations of the real thing. Since then, Apotex has become Canada’s largest drug manufacturer, filling 75 million prescriptions a year. Most of the company’s 300 products are versions of such widely used drugs as the antidepressant Paxil, the antihistamine Claritin and the antibiotic Tetracyn. Apotex tests and develops its products with a staff of 2,100 scientists, who run a 105-bed clinical hospital for human guinea pigs.

Sherman also spends a small fortune on litigation—a full 50 per cent of what he invests in research. Generic manufacturers like Apotex live or die by the speed with which they can plunge into the market­place with copycat versions. So they make it their business to shorten the duration that brand name companies hold on to drug monopolies, weighing potential profits against the risk of lawsuits. It’s not unusual for Apotex—probably the country’s biggest litigator—to be engaged in 100 court cases simultaneously.”

(“Bitter Pill”, by Geraldine Sherman, December 18, 2017, Toronto Life)

The above recount of Apotex’s history included at least three matters worth digging into for their relevance to Sherman’s business practice: one, Apotex had a staff of 2,100 scientists who run “a 105-bed clinical hospital for human guinea pigs”; two, Sherman had an astonishing amount of business spending on legal litigation, equal to 50% of his investment on research; and three, Apotex typically began marketing a generic drug when the brand-name drug patent was still in effect – trying to cut the patent short, taking the risk of getting into legal disputes.

Firstly, how bad were Sherman’s drug trials using “human guinea pigs”? That could involve issues of ethics.

A 2006 news story on Aotex’s generic version of the heart drug Plavix mentioned the human experiments at that 105-bed Apotex hospital, but revealed no detail as to any risks they could pose to the patients’ health:

“Apotex has more than 6,300 employees and fills one in every three prescriptions in Canada, Sherman said. Sales of Plavix this year may double his annual revenue to $2 billion, he said.

The Apotex complex covers several city blocks in the Toronto suburb of Weston. Sherman owns just about everything that touches his drugs, from the chemistry labs to the plants that produce capsules, pill bottles and labels.

To speed drug development, he opened a 105-bed hospital three years ago to conduct drug trials. The beds are filled with paid participants from a database of 30,000 pre-screened people. Blood drawn there can be analysed in labs around the corner, and medications can be rapidly modified and sent back to the hospital for additional tests.

For more than a week now, Apotex equipment has been churning out copies of Plavix pills at a rate of six million every 14 hours. The product, used to prevent heart attacks and strokes, keeps platelets from clumping together and forming clots. Plavix last year was the world’s second-biggest selling drug behind Pfizer Inc.’s cholesterol medicine Lipitor.”

(“Apotex CEO vows he’ll best Sanofi, Bristol-Myers in battle over Plavix rights; ‘I don’t ever shy away from a fight,’ says Barry Sherman”, by Lisa Rapaport, August 19, 2006, Telegraph-Journal)

It certainly sounded like very high-intensity patient drug trials at Apotex’s hospital purposely built for drug trials, a hospital owned, like “just about everything” of Apotex’s, by Barry Sherman.

Nevertheless, reviewing the press archives I have not come across news about these drug trials and so, I guess like others say, ‘no news is good news’.

Secondly, how could Apotex sell a generic drug before the original patent’s expiration and what were the legal risks like? This obviously had much to do with his company’s huge legal spending.

Consider the example of Plavix here. The above quote mentioned that Apotex was mass-producing and mass-selling its generic version of the heart drug Plavix at the time in 2006.

The patent for the brand-name Plavix was still in effect and would be for another five more years; predictably, Sherman’s move got Apotex into a serious legal battle in the U.S.:

“His latest battle, which played out in a U.S. court Friday, is over Plavix, the world’s second-best selling drug, with $6.2 billion US in sales last year. If Apotex prevails, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Sanofi-Aventis SA will lose their exclusive right to market Plavix five years earlier than planned and Apotex will get a windfall selling a cheaper version of the $4-a-day blood-thinning pill.

Sherman is at the centre of a storm involving drug prices. Apotex and generic-drug makers are challenging the validity of product patents so they can sell less-expensive copies sooner than scheduled. …

… In a hearing Friday in U.S. court in New York, Bristol-Myers and Sanofi
asked a judge for an injunction to halt sales of Apotex’s generic copy of Plavix and for an order that the Canadian drugmaker recall inventory already sold. Apotex has argued the Plavix patent was invalid and that an injunction would cause irreparable harm by forcing a recall of millions of dollars in medication already distributed.”

(Lisa Rapaport, August 19, 2006, Telegraph Journal)

As the story told, “Apotex and generic-drug makers are challenging the validity of product patents so they can sell less-expensive copies sooner than scheduled”.

So, Apotex wasn’t the only generic-drug makers who challenged existing brand-name drug patents.

But Apotex also put its generic version of Plavix on the market five years before the patent’s expiration, doing so by simply arguing that the patent was invalid. It was Barry Sherman’s battle and not just Apotex’s, as the above news story stated univocally.

The court injunction being sought by the Big Pharma companies in this case, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis, while the existing drug patent was being contested in a broader court battle, would force Apotex to immediately stop sale of the generics and recall the sold products.

That would mean absolutely no income for Apotex at this point in time while having to pay the costs of developing and selling the generics.

Getting the injunction was critical for these Big Pharma brand-name drug companies, because Sherman’s move caused them major financial losses:

“Sanofi and Bristol-Myers “lost $10 billion in market capitalization since” Apotex began selling the generic Aug. 8, said Evan Chesler, the companies’ lawyer, during opening arguments.

“You can never put our Humpty Dumpty back together again if this thing isn’t stopped.”

Apotex attorney Robert Silver said during opening arguments that removing generic Plavix from the market would harm consumers by driving up prices. “If we’re off the market, then they have the entire market again and they can charge whatever they want.””

(Lisa Rapaport, August 19, 2006, Telegraph Journal)

As Evan Chesler, lawyer for Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb, was quoted telling a U.S. court on August 18, 2006, the two companies lost $10 billion in their stock market worth since August 8 when Apotex began selling its generic version with the original patent still in effect – only about 10 days of Apotex’s sale of generics already made these Big Pharma companies feel like a broken “Humpty Dumpty”.

In response, U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein ordered an injunction to halt Apotex’s sale of the generics while the legal litigation was in process, but refused to order Apotex to recall the sold products:

“… On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein agreed and issued an injunction that prevented Apotex from producing generic versions of the drug until the case has concluded. However, Judge Stein refused to order Apotex to recall pills that it had already shipped.”

(“Apotex rolled the dice on Plavix and they came up snake eyes”, by Paul Waldie, September 2, 2006, The Globe and Mail)

So, Sherman’s aggressive, risk-taking strategy, putting the generic Plavix on the U.S. market in violation of the drug patent, got Apotex a 10-day sale revenue that it could keep for the time being.

That 10-day market damage inflicted on Bristol-Myers Squibb was enough to see the Big Pharma company’s CEO be forced to step down:

“Bristol-Myers loss of Plavix was only temporary, but the impact of Apotex’s aggressive strategy was devastating.

Bristol-Myers’ earnings stagnated and its share price plummeted. For getting outmaneuvered by Apotex, Bristol-Myers’ chief executive was
forced to resign. And it’s not over yet. The two sides are back in court fighting over whether the Plavix patent is valid once again. …”

(“Apotex’s jagged little pills”, by John Greenwood, January 29, 2007, National Post)

I also note that compared to, as discussed earlier, Apotex’s generic drug prices at 70-80% of the brand-name prices in Canada, in the U.S. in 2006 Apotex’s generic Plavix was in great demand even at 80-90% of the brand-name price:

“Apotex’s generic version is selling for about 10% to 20% less than typical US$4-a-day Plavix, which is widely used to prevent recurrences of heart attacks and strokes. Bristol-Myers announced this week it was giving rebates to its customers in an attempt to counter Apotex’s generic price.”

(“Generic drug, specific issue: Apotex fights Plavix”, by Stephanie Saul, August 16, 2006, National Post)

With such a heated head-to-head competition between Apotex and the two international pharmaceutical giants, and the Apotex generic version selling briskly despite only at a modest discount, I guess there would be less ground for the legal and medical expert Amir Attaran to accuse Barry Sherman of gouging, in this case, U.S. consumers.

And now, thirdly, how large in reality was Sherman’s spending on legal costs, that equalled 50% of his research investment?

The Plavix case illustrated that serious legal spending was necessary to ensure a high-stake and fierce dispute over the right to sell drugs in a lucrative market to stay within the legal realm and be properly adjudicated, and not get carried away.

A 2008 news story cited a few interesting numbers about Canadian lawyers earning generic drug litigation money and their gratitude toward Sherman, especially in the context of patent litigation generally in Canada:

“Harry Radomski of the law firm Goodmans in Toronto is lead generic drug counsel for Apotex inc. He’s driving a litigation train.

Notice of compliance cases — a method pharmaceutical companies use for obtaining approval of a new drug — constitute some 90% of the firm’s IP litigation, generating between $10-and $20-million in annual billings for Mr. Radomski and his colleagues.

The truth is that pharmaceutical litigation of the kind known as generic drug litigation is a docket hog. Such cases make up at least 60% of all patent cases in the Federal Court and consume at least 75% of the legal fees. Indeed, on one summer day, 17 of the 20 motions on the Federal Court list in Toronto were pharmaceutical cases.

“IP litigation lawyers should erect a monument to Barry Sherman,” says Scott Jolliffe, managing partner of Gowling Lafleur Henderson in Toronto.

“The pure profit of the generics is one thousandfold that of the brands, so there’s huge money at stake for both parties,” Mr. Jolliffe says.

It pays the generic companies, then, to take on litigation with slim chances of success in the hope that one suit will pay off in spades.

“Barry Sherman will tell you that he needs to win only one case in 100 in order for his company to stay very profitable,” Mr. Jolliffe says.”

(“Litigation train keeps rolling on; Patent Lawsuits”, by Julius Melitzer, September 24, 2008, National Post)

As reported, Goodmans, the law firm of Apotex’s lead generic drug counsel Harry Radomski, brought in $10-20 million annually from just one type of generic drug cases – Notice of compliance cases – and that at the Federal Court of Canada, generic drug cases made up 60% of the patent cases and consumed 75% of the legal fees.

And as lawyer Scott Jolliffe pointed out, the pure profit of generic drugs is a thousand times of the brand-name drugs and Barry Sherman only needed to win one in 100 cases for Apotex to be very profitable. So, in taking the legal risks and counting on litigation, to the Canadian Intellectual Property litigation lawyers – many of whom undoubtedly enriched by the Apotex legal cases – Sherman was a hero deserving “a monument”.

From the press’s portrayals of his generic drug business ambitions and drive that I have reviewed to this point, I would describe Barry Sherman’s business practice as commercially and legally very aggressive, probably to the point of being reckless, and possibly with some misplaced priorities.

But I can’t quite call Sherman a “pitbull” that the Maclean’s investigative article has termed, or “unethical” as law and medicine professor Amir Attaran has also alleged.

In Robinson’s 2001 book, Sherman explained why his company had a better focus on producing and selling drugs than Big Pharma did, which spent a lot of its money on marketing and advertising, in Canada:

“Apotex employs some thirty-five hundred people, compared with Big Pharma’s total in Canada of around fifteen thousand. But Sherman points out that Apotex produces more than Big Pharm does. “They have all these people in marketing and 30 per cent of their income goes to these glossy ads to doctors. The purpose of the ads, of course, is not to get the best therapy but to get the doctors to prescribe those things on which the drug companies make the most profit. …Then, as soon as there’s generic competition, they move on to promoting something that’s more expensive, even though it’s not necessarily better.””

(Jeffrey Robinson, 2001, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

Barry Sherman sounded a lot like a Canadian industry hero, a patriot, didn’t he – even if Apotex’s generic drugs weren’t that cheap for the Canadian consumers as pointed out by Amir Attaran?

With my review thus far of various media-reported facts, there is an emerging picture of how Barry Sherman and Apotex competed with the international brand-name drug companies to grow and establish his company as the leading Canadian generic drug company, and in the process became financially successful.

Thus, one can can ponder a more specific question about “who could have murdered” the Shermans: driven by unrelenting ambitions, could Sherman’s Canadian pharmaceutical business practice have been a cause of the “targeted” brutal murder of him and his wife – regardless of his being “unethical in business”, facts about which I have not yet encountered in my review?

Surprisingly, the answer is affirmative because, as cited earlier from the Maclean’s investigative article, Sherman was quoted in Robinson’s book as having entertained that thought, and here a fuller quote from that book shows what exactly Sherman pointed his accusing finger at:

“The branded drug companies hate us. They have private investigators on us all the time. The thought once came to my mind, why didn’t they just hire someone to knock me off? For a thousand bucks paid to the right person, you can probably get someone killed. Perhaps I’m surprised that hadn’t happened.”

(Jeffrey Robinson, 2001, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

“The branded drug companies” could “just hire someone to knock me off”, and “I’m surprised that hadn’t happened”, said Sherman as above.

Interestingly, at the time of their conversation, Jeffrey Robinson thought Barry Sherman wasn’t really serious about the possibility of being targeted; and now the author has professed to be “stunned” by the murder:

“Jeffrey Robinson — author of Prescription Games – Money, Ego and Power Inside the Global Pharmaceutical Industry — interviewed Sherman for the 2001 book.

He said he was stunned when he heard the generic drug dynamo had been murdered.

However, the writer said that when Sherman said he was surprised he hadn’t been bumped off by his slew of enemies, he was being glib.

“Barry said it like, ‘I bought another baseball mitt mom,’” Robinson said. “Neither of us took it seriously and it has nothing to do with what’s going on right now.””

(Brad Hunter, February 1, 2018, Toronto Sun)

But Sherman’s “targeted” murder has happened, whether or not Robinson took it seriously when Sherman said it could have happened. Without a more thorough analysis, any investigation should not dismiss the scenario that it may have involved Big Pharma.

For instance, Apotex’s aggressive generic drug selling would readily, as in the case of the heart drug Plavix discussed earlier, breach an existing patent, i.e., illegally while it was still in effect, and the unpleasant market surprise could cause substantial financial losses and made the brand-name drug companies and their dependents feel like a broken “Humpty Dumpty”. Consequently, the thought of “knocking off” such a competitor could have come to the minds of some who suffered losses, as it had come across this competitor’s own mind.

Along this line of contemplation, one would be looking at international pharmaceutical giants such as GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb, and the likes of Pfizer, Merck, Bayer and AstraZeneca – to cite a few mentioned in Robinson’s 2001 book – for culpability.

However, to be fair, even if brand-name drug companies were somehow connected to the Shermans’ murder, one should still consider issues on Barry Sherman’s part – such as his “unethical” business dealings – that could have contributed to his bloody end.

The Maclean’s April 2018 investigative article has cited a specific person, Morton Shulman, who had been a pharmaceutical business battle with Sherman and who regarded Sherman with utter contempt:

“… The late physician and pharmaceutical entrepreneur Morton Shulman, who did battle with Sherman, called him “the only person I have ever met with no redeeming features whatsoever.”

(Anne Kingston and Michael Friscolanti, April 5, 2018, Maclean’s)

Jesus Christ, “no redeeming features whatsoever”!

The article did not cite any concrete facts in relation to such a derogatory comment on Barry Sherman by “the late physician and pharmaceutical entrepreneur Morton Shulman”. Nonetheless, when one learns who Morton Sherman was, his characterization of Sherman could well be damning, or even condemning:

Morton Shulman, OC (25 April 1925 – August 18, 2000) was a Canadian politician, businessman, broadcaster, columnist, coroner, and physician.

In exchange for his involvement in the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, he was appointed Ontario’s chief coroner in 1961. In 1963, he was named Chief Coroner of the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. Shulman was outspoken and used the coroner position to crusade on a number of issues such as enacting tougher regulations on lifejackets for small boats, having government regulate car safety, the introduction of breathalysers into Ontario, and against then-restrictive abortion laws after he investigated the deaths of women who had died while trying to terminate their pregnancies. … His years as a coroner became the inspiration for the Canadian television drama Wojeck.

After embarrassing the provincial government by revealing its inaction in enforcing the fire code in a recently built hospital, he was fired, in 1967, as Ontario’s Chief Coroner and decided to avenge himself by running for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. … Despite his strong capitalist beliefs, he decided to run for the democratic socialist party because they gave him a free hand in choosing his own riding, and because their views in support of public safety were compatible with his own. He ran as a candidate in High Park and was elected as Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for the riding in the 1967 provincial election.

From 1977 until 1982, he hosted a hard-hitting television show on CITY-TV called The Shulman File which featured confrontational interviews, sensationalist and risque topics and outrageous opinions. … At the same time, he began writing a regular column in the Toronto Sun which continued into the 1990s. …”

(“Morton Shulman – Biography”, JewAge)

The late Dr. Shulman once served as the Chief Coroner of the province of Ontario and also of the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, his crusades for human safety inspired a Canadian TV drama, and he later became a politician, a newspaper columnist and the host of a hard-hitting TV interview and opinion show.

The experience of examining human deaths and determining the causes should give Shulman the ability to judge personality and character. Hence, if Shulman did not exaggerate in his “hard-hitting” opinion of Sherman, the latter must have been quite “unethical” in at least some of the many business and legal battles he and Apotex fought against others, including Shulman and the brand-name drug companies.

In the press archives, there is a reasonable amount of past coverage on legal disputes in 1993-1994 pitching Sherman and Apotex against Shulman and his company, Deprenyl Research.

Their disputes originated from Apotex’s plan to develop and market a generic version of a brand-name drug, deprenyl, also known as selegeline, for Parkinson’s disease, which Shulman suffered from and as a result started a company owning the drug’s Canadian right, selling it under the trademark name Eldepryl.

It was a David vs. Goliath battle, except not pitching Sherman and Apotex against Big Pharma like in most of the media-reported legal cases involving Sherman and Apotex, but in a role reversal pitching them against a small Canadian company and its owner Morton Shulman, who was a practising medical doctor:

“Apotex, in documents filed in the Ontario Court’s General Division, claims Dr. Shulman has defamed it by using a stamp on his patients’ prescriptions that instructs pharmacists not to fill them with drugs made by Apotex.

In its statement of claim, Apotex said it wants $1-million in damages …

Dr. Shulman said in an affidavit that he has concerns about the safety of Apotex products because of reports about legal problems Apotex and an associated company in the United States are having with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He said he has an obligation to protect the interests of his patients.

The drug is used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, which affects the central nervous system.

Dr. Shulman, who suffers from Parkinson’s, is a former chief coroner for Metropolitan Toronto, former New Democratic Party member of the Ontario Legislature, author of several best-selling books on how to accumulate wealth, former host of a television public-affairs program and a millionaire who still practices medicine.

… In an interview last year, Apotex president Bernard (Barry) Sherman said the company made 109 different generic drugs, had annual sales of more than $200-million in Canada and almost $500-million world wide.

“In April, 1993, Deprenyl became aware that Apotex intended to develop and market its (own) brand of selegeline,” Mr. Sherman said in an affidavit filed with the court. “Competition by the Apotex generic brand of selegeline would pose a very serious threat to Deprenyl.””

(“Drug firm sues Shulman for defamation; Apotex seeks damages over MD’s orders on prescriptions against use of its products”, by Peter Moon, July 2, 1993, The Globe and Mail)

As told in the above, Sherman wasn’t shy about the prospect that his big company’s generic drug could pose “a very serious threat” to the small company of Shulman’s, but was quite blunt telling the court about it.

When Shulman first learned of that unpleasant prospect in April 1993, he asked, through an intermediary Arnold Polan, for Sherman’s consideration not to introduce the generic, as he recalled in a court affidavit in defence against the above-cited $1 million Apotex lawsuit, “Deprenyl produces but one drug, whereas Apotex has many”:

“In their affidavits, Mr. Sherman and Dr. Shulman agree that Arnold Polan, a Toronto stockbroker who has traded stocks for both men, met with Mr. Sherman at Dr. Shulman’s request.

“I asked Mr. Arnold Polan to speak to Mr. Sherman to see if he would not develop and introduce (a generic version of selegeline),” Dr. Shulman’s affidavit said. “Deprenyl produces but one drug, whereas Apotex has many.””

(Peter Moon, July 2, 1993, The Globe and Mail)

Sherman flatly rejected Shulman’s request. Shulman then began to instruct pharmacists to exclude Apotex’s drugs from the medicines he prescribed as medical doctor, and that action incurred the Apotex lawsuit:

“I refused,” Mr. Sherman’s affidavit said. “It appears that, as a result of (my) refusal to accede to (Dr. Shulman’s) request, (he) determined that he would attempt to intimidate me into withdrawing development and sale of Apotex’s generic selegeline, or alternatively, to punish Apotex for my refusing to do so.

“Commencing some time in the week of May 3, 1993, on prescriptions which he wrote, and without regard to whether Apotex even manufactured the particular medicines being prescribed, (Dr. Shulman) placed the following stipulation: ‘Do not fill this prescription with an Apotex product.’” As a result of protests by Apotex, court records show, Dr. Shulman stopped using the stamp. But he replaced it with another one that instructed pharmacists to fill patients’ prescriptions with “Original brand or Novapharm. No sub.”

The stipulation meant pharmacists could dispense only higher-priced brand-name products or generic drugs manufactured by Novapharm Ltd., Apotex’s chief competitor in the manufacture of generic drugs.

Dr. Shulman’s affidavit says a physician has a right to prescribe whatever brand of drug he wishes. “I believe that if I have reason to doubt the efficacy of a particular product, then it is my responsibility to my patients to make sure that that brand is not taken. I have such reasonable doubts with respect to (Apotex) and its products.””

(Peter Moon, July 2, 1993, The Globe and Mail)

The Sherman-Shulman dispute is a good example showing that Barry Sherman and Apotex were not merely focused on fighting Big Pharma but also keen on pushing a generic drug even when it could threaten the wellbeing of a small Canadian-owned company.

In this case, the owner of the small company the Apotex generics would pose “a very serious threat to” – in Sherman’s own language in a court affidavit – was also a medical doctor and a former chief coroner, and thus had first-hand professional expertise on medicines and their effects. As Shulman stated in his court affidavit, that “if I have reason to doubt the efficacy of a particular product, then it is my responsibility to my patients to make sure that that brand is not taken. I have such reasonable doubts with respect to (Apotex) and its products.”

Most uniquely in this case, the small brand-name drug company owner himself was also a sufferer of Parkinson’s disease that the drug was for the treatment of, and he tried to appeal for Sherman’s compassion – since Shulman’s Deprenyl Research company produced only that one drug – to stop Apotex from marketing its generic version.

Sherman’s firm refusal and brash attitude, as shown by quotes from his court affidavit, were in my view quite in stark contrast to his reputation projected to the public as a compassionate and generous philanthropist.

Sherman was ungenerous and unkind to refuse to consider Shulman’s unique and difficult personal predicament, and then showed lack of compassion for compromise with his stern and unabashed pursue of Shulman in court in order to stamp out Shulman’s individual gesture of protest as a doctor about Apotex drugs.

Particularly abominably, Sherman and Apotex chose a time when Shulman’s Parkinson’s disease had begun worsening, after years of successful treatment with that drug, to announce their plan to make the generic version:

“Dr. Morton Shulman, officially retired but still proud father of Deprenyl Research Ltd., and Barry Sherman, president and owner of Apotex Ltd., are doing battle, armed with legal briefs, affidavits and reports from private investigators.

Allegations, insinuations and downright slanderous statements are flying in both directions. Despite attempts to negotiate a truce, it seems likely this war will continue.

“This is a true crusade,” Shulman said in an interview in his Roncesvalles Ave. office. “I’ve got nothing to do (but fight with Sherman.) I’m delighted. It was a godsend that this came along.”

The battle started this spring, about the same time Shulman, 68, was being eased into retirement from Deprenyl Research, the company he founded to import a drug to combat Parkinson’s disease.

Shulman, who last week was made an officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions in health care, won fame and fortune as a crusading Metro coroner in the 1960s, an outspoken MPP, opinionated investment counsellor, television talk show host and drug company founder.

He suffers from Parkinson’s disease and set up Deprenyl in 1987 to import the drug Eldepryl from Europe.

Shulman became his company’s best advertisement as the drug alleviated his symptoms for years. Now, his condition is deteriorating and his speech is slurred and movements are jerky.

Shulman’s son Geoffrey and Dr. Martin Barkin, who was brought in last year to run Deprenyl, now manage the company as it tries to expand its range of products and defend its Eldepryl turf.”

(“Shulman vs. Sherman; The drug entrepreneurs face off”, by Art Chamberlain, July 11, 1993, Toronto Star)

At that particular time, Barry Sherman was literally adding insult to Morton Sherman’s injury.

And the insult could mean more: the above July 11, 1993 Toronto Star story noted that Shulman “last week was made an officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions in health care” – likely on July 1, Canada Day – but I notice that his Order of Canada appointment may have been made on April 22, i.e., in the same month when Shulman became of Apotex’s plan to make a generic version of his drug – a timeline stated in Sherman’s court affidavit cited earlier earlier from a July 2, 1993 The Globe and Mail article.

(“Honours, Order of Canada, Morton Shulman, O.C., M.D.”, updated March 26, 2018, Archives, Governor General of Canada)

In deciding to produce a generic version, Sherman and Apotex disregarded the existing patents covering Shulman’s drug brand:

“Shulman says he met Sherman a few years ago when Sherman made an unsuccessful offer to buy Deprenyl, but their paths have not crossed since.

Once a drug patent expires, or is legally defeated, companies such as Apotex and Novopharm Ltd. can make generic copies and earn a healthy profit selling them at a fraction of the brand-name’s cost.

In April, Apotex announced it felt Deprenyl’s patents wouldn’t stand up in court, and it planned to begin selling a copy soon.

Deprenyl and Apotex have a separate legal action over the patent protection that hasn’t come to court yet.”

(Art Chamberlain, July 11, 1993, Toronto Star)

As cited above, besides the lawsuit by Apotex against Shulman which Sherman played a personal role in, there was a separate legal patent case between Shulman’s Deprenyl Research and Sherman’s Apotex.

I note that, like later in 2006 selling a generic version of Plavix in the U.S., without first legally contesting the existing patents but by only asserting its own opinion, Apotex would produce and sell the generics. This was a tact Apotex used whenever it could as Sherman discussed its pros and cons in Jeffrey Robinson’s 2001 book, quoted earlier.

It seemed that nothing could affect Sherman’s single-minded, strong-willed and boorish drive pursuing his monumental generic drug ambitions.

But in Shulman’s case, something did seem to stop Sherman from pushing ahead with the generic version according to a January 1994 Toronto Star article reviewing Shulman’s autobiography, Can’t Somebody Shut Him Up?; maybe it had to do with former Chief Coroner Shulman’s law enforcement connection, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation  launched a criminal investigation of Apotex and it changed Sherman’s mind:

“Although Can’t Somebody Shut Him Up? claims to be about his whole life, it focuses mostly on his latest life, the life he created for himself after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 11 years ago when he was in his mid-50s. Sentenced to death by the disease, (or worse, a life of helplessness) he discovers a Hungarian wonder drug that can treat his symptoms. Then he turns the drug, Deprenyl, into a pharmaceutical company that at one time was worth $100 million. Along the way he is accused of stock manipulation, quackery and worse. Among the claims he makes for Deprenyl is that it has strengthened his libido (never weak, in any case): “My wife was quite amazed and what had been a twice weekly activity became and has remained a daily delight.”

Shulman acknowledges that he has a thirst for revenge. This book is his opportunity to get back at those he perceives as his enemies. One enemy is
Canadian generic drug king pin Barry Sherman, the founder of Apotex, Inc., who matches Shulman in tenacity and aggressiveness. Not long after
tangling with Shulman, the FBI investigated Sherman’s company for mail fraud, money laundering and illegal drug dispensing; Sherman, not
surprisingly, gave up the idea of producing a generic version of Shulman’s wonder drug.”

(“Another look at what makes Morty run”, by Edward Trapunski, January 15, 1994, Toronto Star)

It took two to tango. As told above, Morton Shulman clearly liked to exaggerate and he also manipulated his company’s stocks; on the other hand, Barry Sherman could be an even more “unethical” businessman if some of the FBI allegations, “mail fraud, money laundering and illegal drug dispensing”, were true.

The July 11, 1993 Toronto Star story quoted earlier mentioned “reports from private investigators” that were used in the legal dispute between Apotex and Shulman. Specifically, Shulman hired private investigators to look into Sherman’s business practice, and that may have helped him reach a settlement in the end:

“Two years ago, he and former coroner and MPP Morton Shulman waged a public dispute that entertained the pharmaceutical industry for months with charges and counter charges over a drug to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Shulman even had private investigators digging into Sherman’s complicated corporate world, which includes operations in Bermuda and a host of American companies.

In the end, they negotiated a truce and dropped the lawsuits.”

(“Taking heart from court victory Drug stockpile a gold mine for Apotex”, by Art Chamberlain, May 23, 1995, Toronto Star)

The settlement, with Sherman and Apotex dropping the $1 million lawsuit and Shulman agreeing not to exclude Apotex from prescriptions he wrote as a doctor, was reported by the media in November 1993:

“The two bad boys of the pharmaceutical business have called a truce in their public spat.

Barry Sherman, president of Apotex Inc., has dropped a lawsuit for a little matter of $1 million. And Morty Shulman, doctor and founder of Deprenyl Research Ltd., has agreed to stop stamping his prescriptions with a note telling pharmacists not to use Apotex drugs.

Shulman was not too happy about Sherman’s plans to sell a copy of Deprenyl’s main product. But the medical multi-millionaires have agreed to patch things up.

“He’s stopped,” Sherman said this week. “He doesn’t want to be confronted with a lawsuit for damages because he knows he’d lose.”

“I haven’t used the stamp for a long time,” Shulman said. He added: “One of the terms is that I’m not allowed to say anything.”

That’s a bit of a problem for a man with a new biography called Can’t Somebody Shut Him Up?

The answer seems to be no: Shulman did go on to talk about the settlement. But he called back with a chuckle two minutes later. He said his lawyer told him his comments would be in contempt of court.”

(“Medical multi-millionaires stamp out their drug row”, November 6, 1993, Toronto Star)

As reported above, as of November 1993 with the legal settlement, Shulman was still unhappy because it did not stop Apotex’s plan to develop and sell a generic version of the brand-name drug he owned the Canadian right of.

In an earlier quote from a review of Shulman’s new autobiography, in the Toronto Star on January 15, 1994, it was reported that Sherman “gave up the idea of producing a generic version of Shulman’s wonder drug” due to an FBI criminal investigation of him:

“Not long after tangling with Shulman, the FBI investigated Sherman’s company for mail fraud, money laundering and illegal drug dispensing; Sherman, not surprisingly, gave up the idea of producing a generic version of Shulman’s wonder drug.”

(Edward Trapunski, January 15, 1994, Toronto Star)

That was probably Shulman’s view by January 15, 1994, a few months after the legal settlement.

Ironically, Shulman’s autobiography was entitled Can’t Somebody Shut Him Up?. Obviously, Shulman did not like to shut up and in his new autobiography he bragged about his battle with Sherman.

Unfortunately in this case, Sherman did not really give up. Thirteen days later on January 28, another Toronto Star story cited Sherman as stating that “Apotex is developing a generic version of deprenyl to sell in Canada”:

“Sherman has said Apotex is developing a generic version of deprenyl to sell in Canada.”

(“Apotex chief must testify, judge rules U.S. civil lawsuit over deprenyl sale set for April trial”, by Art Chamberlain, January 28, 1994, Toronto Star)

Clearly, an FBI criminal investigation and Shulman’s private investigation, both digging into his business practice, weren’t enough to change Sherman’s mind, after all.

That history looks even more ironic today, that currently there are also a police criminal investigation and a private investigation, the latter launched by Barry Sherman’s family, into the Sherman couple’s own double murder – bear in mind that Morton Shulman was a former Chief Coroner!

It was logical from Sherman’s standpoint in 1994 that he and Apotex did not give up. They had planned to produce a generic for Shulman’s drug ever since the early days of Shulman’s drug business. Shulman’s autobiography, co-authored with Toronto writer Susan Kastner and published in late 1993, recalled some prior history:

“One fine day in May 1993, Barry Sherman announced he was bringing out a 40 percent lower-priced generic version of Eldepryl, and that there was nothing Morty and his folks could do to stop him.

What made it particularly galling for Morty was the fact that only two weeks earlier, Deprenyl had confidently announced that Eldepryl would be safe for nearly three more years from the depredations of the generics – protected by a brand-new regulation that gave extra teeth to Bill C-91, the Patent Protection Act.

Barry Sherman has had his sights trained on selegeline, the chemical generic of Eldepryl, for a long time, and now he means to bag it for Apotex.

Within months of Eldepryl’s HPB approval as a recognized Parkinson’s medication, in January 1990, Apotex signalled its interest in cloning the drug.

Morty had, of course, earmarked the generic threat from the very start. As part of his push for HPB sanction he hooked into the pharmaceutical industry fight for the passage of Bill C-91, a new law to beef up patent protection against the accursed generics.

In February [1993], the Morton and Gloria Shulman Centre for the study of Movement Disorders opens in a modestly gala ceremony at Toronto Western Hospital.

In March, 1993, a Private Member’s Bill is introduced to buy Eldepryl patent protection until 1997.

“What, no statue? No horse, no sword?” quips a delighted Morty.

Late in April, 1993, he scoots a flyer to pharmacists, bearing on its cover APO – the Apotex logo – with a big X through it:

“It’s time to Substitute. If it has APO in the name it comes from Apotex. Apotex is owned by Barry Sherman.””

(Dr. Morton Shulman and Susan Kastner, Can’t Somebody Shut Him Up?, 1993, Warwick Publishing Group)

As in the above from his autobiography, Shulman began sending a flyer to pharmacists in late April 1993, to ask them not to use Apotex drugs. It indicates that this was the time when his negotiation with Sherman through an intermediary, cited earlier, failed to stop Apotex’s plan for the generic version. Within two weeks, Sherman publicly announced Apotex’s plan to introduce the generic version.

A 40% discount from the brand-name drug appeared lower than the usual 20-30% discount of Apotex generics as reviewed earlier, although it’s not clear if the price Sherman announced in this case was specifically targeted.

Sherman’s announcement, barely two weeks after Shulman invoking a new legislative protection for the brand-name patent, also presented Apotex’s opinion why the new legislation could not protect the brand-name drug from Apotex’s generic:

“On April 27, 1993, Morty sends “A Letter to My Friends” on stationery of The Safety Corporation.

The Globe story that day describes a new federal regulation that extends the drug-patent protection extended by Bill C-91. It closes a loophole that allowed generics to quietly begin development of patent drug copies before a patent has expired, and go on working while the whole thing is battled in court.

Now the generic company must give notice of intention to the patent holder, and will be prevented from selling its copy for up to 30 months after court action is commenced.

This is the 30-month safety shield Deprenyl has happily invoked.

But barely two weeks later, here is Barry Sherman making a counter-pronouncement that Apotex means to produce Eldepryl by a process that has nothing to do with the patented Deprenyl method.

This means war.”

(Dr. Morton Shulman and Susan Kastner, 1993, Warwick Publishing Group)

From Sherman’s perspective, this was an example of an “anti-competitive regulation” as he referred to in Robinson’s 2001 book, that was an obstacle to Apotex’s generic drug drive, except that the provisional brand-name protection in this case would benefit a small Canadian drug company, not Big Pharma.

In Shulman’s failed negotiation with Sherman, his intermediary Arnold Polan received Sherman’s reply that it would take a $10 million payment from Shulman – the amount of profit that Sherman estimated he would make from the generic – for Apotex not to produce and sell the generic:

“Mr. Polan asked him what would it take for Apotex to stop developing and producing in competition to Deprenyl. Mr. Sherman said that likely he would make about $10 million profit and so if Dr. Shulman wanted to stop him, it would cost $10 million.”

(Dr. Morton Shulman and Susan Kastner, 1993, Warwick Publishing Group)

Regardless of which of the two was winning their battle – apparently Sherman and his giant Apotex were much more resourceful, both legally and technologically – one thing is clear about their comparison, that the Canadian official reputation of Shulman’s has been better than that of Sherman’s.

Morton Sherman was an Officer of the Order of Canada, whereas Barry Sherman became, at a lower rank, a Member of the Order of Canada posthumously; while both lived to the age of 75, Shulman received the honour in 1993, the year of his dispute with Sherman, and then lived for another 7 years.

(updated March 26, 2018, Archives, Governor General of Canada; and, “Appointments to the Order of Canada”, December 29, 2017/January 11, 2018, The Governor General of Canada)

Nonetheless, for someone with Sherman’s achievements and official honour, one obviously cannot easily agree with Shulman that this man was of “no redeeming features whatsoever”.

While I have not found detailed media coverage of Shulman’s private investigation into Sherman’s business practice, which may have influenced his opinion of Sherman, media coverage of the FBI criminal investigation beginning in June 1993, and of a related lawsuit filed by a U.S. drug company, did show the extent of illegal marketing activities Sherman and one of his family members engaged in to sell Apotex drugs to the U.S.

These drugs made for Canada did not have the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the U.S. market; they were provided by Apotex to some small companies – Interpharm, Silver Bullet Marketing and others – controlled by Sherman and his brother-in-law, Allen Barry Shechtman, operating from the Apotex company site, and sold by mail to the U.S. consumers without the necessary prescriptions:

“Canada’s largest pharmaceutical drug manufacturer, Apotex Inc., is being probed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to find out how its generic drugs are reaching U.S. residents who do not have prescriptions for them.

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore are looking for evidence of violations of U.S. federal laws involving mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and the unlawful distribution of unapproved drugs. The RCMP have been helping the FBI with its investigation.

Besides Apotex, the FBI probe includes the company’s president, Bernard (Barry) Sherman, 50; his brother-in-law, Allen Barry Shechtman, 45, and Mr. Shechtman’s company, Silver Bullet Marketing.

Interpharm Inc., a Bahamian company whose ownership remains obscure, and several other Canadians and Canadian companies are also part of the investigation.

A spokesman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed that the agency had passed its file on the matter to the U.S. Justice Department.

Papers filed as part of civil suits with the Federal Court of Canada in Toronto and the U.S. District Court in Atlanta set out the way in which drugs manufactured in Toronto by Apotex are mailed to U.S. consumers.

It has used the mail-order method to sell about 60 generic drugs to U.S. consumers, including anti-AIDS drugs and naproxen, an anti- inflammatory used by arthritis patients.

But because the drugs are not approved in the United States, authorities there have no mechanism for applying quality controls or prescription restrictions.

The Apotex drugs are promoted by Interpharm in the United States by means of direct mailings and advertisements in newspapers and magazines aimed at groups such as the elderly, people with AIDS, veterans, the arthritic and heart patients.

The material says the drugs may be legally imported into the United States for personal use, and offers savings of as much as 60 per cent off the price of U.S. name-brand equivalents.

Bahamian records list the directors of Interpharm as two local trust-company officials, but its ownership is clouded in the secrecy provided by Bahamian law.

Court records show that one Interpharm direct mailing reached 500,000 U.S. households. Canadian telephone records show that between May, 1991, and February, 1992, Interpharm’s 1-800 telephone number – which was answered at the Silver Bullet premises in Toronto – received 12,812 calls. (The 800 number was originally listed to Apotex, but it was later transferred to Silver Bullet, the records show.) Financial records showing how much Apotex and Silver Bullet made from drug sales in the United States through Interpharm have been sealed by the court in Atlanta.

But evidence filed there showed that Apotex provided generic drugs it manufactured or bought in Canada to Silver Bullet.

The company operates out of premises owned by Apotex, less than 50 metres from the Apotex plant on Signet Drive in the Metro Toronto municipality of North York. Silver Bullet then acted as a marketing agency for Interpharm.”

(“FBI probes big Canadian drug firm Apotex products sold to U.S. residents without prescriptions”, by Peter Moon, June 19, 1993, The Globe and Mail)

There indeed was a real problem of ethics here. The owner of Canada’s leading pharmaceutical company was also, along with a family member, conducting direct mail-marketing of drugs into another country in disregard of that country’s government health regulations.

But I note that in such a illegal direct sale scheme the generic drugs could indeed be cheap, as much as 60% off the U.S. branded drug prices as Interpharm advertised, claiming it to be legal.

It appeared that Apotex had earlier done the mail selling when it was allowed by the U.S. FDA, and then stopped after an FDA policy change:

“Apotex said in its release it did supply generic drugs to companies selling to the U.S. market “when it was the policy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration … to allow Americans to import drugs for personal use.”

That policy was issued July 23, 1988, by FDA Commissioner Frank Young at the National Lesbian and Gay Health Conference and AIDS Forum in Boston, said Apotex, so that people with AIDS could get drugs that might combat the disease.

But Apotex stopped supplying products after the FDA changed its policy so that personal imports were no longer allowed, the company said.

“Apotex asserts that at no time has it, or any of its officers or directors, done anything unlawful,” the release said.

The Globe reported the FBI probe includes Mr. Sherman’s brother-in-law, Allen Barry Shechtman, 45, and his company, Silver Bullet Marketing.”

(“It’s harassment, Apotex says of FBI probe”, June 21, 1993, The Hamilton Spectator)

As asserted in the above, Sherman’s big company Apotex may have followed the U.S. government policy properly in its direct-mail selling; however, Sherman and his brother-in-law then used small companies operating at the fringe of this business field to continue the selling in violation of the U.S. regulations – that was most likely why the Interpharm-Silver Bullet 1-800 phone numbers for mail drug ordering had previously been Apotex’s as in the June 19, 1993 The Globe and Mail story quoted earlier.

As early as in January 1992, the U.S. FDA had sent letters warning of serious illegality to Sherman and Shechtman, and Bahamas-registered Interpharm with undisclosed ownership, stating that “these drugs and their solicitation are in serious violation of United States law, specifically the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act”:

“The FDA, in warning letters sent to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Shechtman and Interpharm in January, 1992, said Interpharm “falsely represented the legitimacy” of its activities in labels and advertisements sent to U.S. residents.

The FDA said its review “has revealed that these drugs and their solicitation are in serious violation of United States law, specifically the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. . . . We are taking steps to warn our citizens that these drugs may not be legally marketed in this country.””

(Peter Moon, June 19, 1993, The Globe and Mail)

Then in March 1993, i.e., a few months before media reporting of the FBI criminal investigation, a U.S. District Court judge in Atlanta ruled that Sherman’s mail selling of drugs to the U.S. market represented a “threat to public health”:

“A U.S. District Court judge ruled in Atlanta in March that the export of the drugs from Canada to the United States involved “false representations in furtherance of . . . business interests” and represented a “threat to public health.”

In an affidavit sworn in February, Mr. Sherman said he believed that the Atlanta lawsuit was launched to punish him for making cheaper drugs available. “I believe the real motive for the present suit is to inflict revenge on Apotex and me as an officer of Apotex because of Apotex’s actions in providing low-price, safe and effective drugs to the public.””

(Peter Moon, June 19, 1993, The Globe and Mail)

I note that the U.S. judge’s ruling of “threat to public health” came after reviewing a sworn affidavit by Sherman in February making his point of “providing low-price, safe and effective drugs to the public.”

As quoted from the June 19, 1993 The Globe and Mail story, the FBI criminal investigation was already a next step – following the FDA’s – in the U.S. government’s efforts to stop Barry Sherman’s illegal mail-selling of drugs to the U.S. market.

Perhaps this next step was influenced by Morton Shulman, who bragged about it in his autobiography according to a January 15, 1994 Toronto Star article quote earlier.

Certain details of the drug mailing reported by the FBI showed that these small companies of Sherman’s were well aware that it was illegal activity requiring hiding of their identities and evading U.S. Customs inspections:

“The process worked as follows: Silver Bullet in North York answered calls made by U.S. residents who dialled a 1-800 number advertised in the United States by Interpharm of the Bahamas.

Silver Bullet then mailed the drugs in blister packets to the U.S. addresses. The drugs were sent in hand-addressed envelopes with no return address on them. Instead of using a postage meter, which would include an identification number, Silver Bullet employees stuck Canadian postage stamps on the envelopes.

The FBI report noted that after the FDA warning letters were sent Silver Bullet changed the colour of the envelopes it used to mail the drugs to the United States.

“It should be noted that the envelopes used are a very nondescript type that will bear three Canadian stamps and reflect no return address,” the FBI report said.

“The average customs inspector would be unable to recognize the parcel as a commercial piece of mail containing a ‘blister pack’ with approximately 100 tablets inside. Because of this tactic, FDA efforts to interdict the product at the Canadian border have met with little success.””

(Peter Moon, June 19, 1993, The Globe and Mail)

Due to its potential health risks, both the FBI and the FDA also declared – even more gravely than the U.S. District Court judge cited earlier – that the mail selling of drugs “constitutes a significant threat to the health of the U.S. consumer”:

“The report said that “any time a call is made to purchase these drugs, the consumer is asked for the name of his or her doctor and doctor’s phone number. It has been documented in every single case (investigated) that no confirmation call is ever placed to the consumer’s physician by the subject after an order is received.

“Because of this, the FBI and FDA believe that the continued sale of unapproved generic drugs into the United States constitutes a significant threat to the health of the U.S. consumer.””

(Peter Moon, June 19, 1993, The Globe and Mail)

This direct-mail selling case also showed how unrelenting Barry Sherman was in advancing his generic drugs’ reach. Even after Judge Horace Ward, the U.S. District Court judge in Atlanta overseeing a civil lawsuit from the U.S. drug company Syntex, ordered an injunction against Interpharm in March 1993, Sherman told the judge he wanted to continue selling through a “sister” company named Medicine Club International:

“On March 18, U.S. District Court Judge Horace Ward issued a preliminary injunction in Atlanta against Mr. Sherman, Mr. Shechtman, Apotex and Interpharm.

They were defendants in a civil action brought by Syntex (USA) Inc. Syntex is the U.S. manufacturer of naproxen, which is sold under the brand name of Naprosyn.

Syntex is alleging unfair competition, trademark infringement and violations of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act.

All four defendants contend in their brief to the court that they have broken no U.S. laws. They note that Syntex has sued Apotex unsuccessfully several times in Canada, and they say the U.S. action is an attempt to accomplish in that country what it failed to do in Canada, “namely destroy Interpharm.”

The injunction ordered the defendants to stop claiming that their naproxen meets U.S. standards, has been approved by the FDA and may be imported legally into the United States for personal use.

“The court has found that defendants’ representations that the quality of their products is identical to United States standards are literally false,” Judge Ward said.

Evidence presented to Judge Ward showed that the export of Apotex’s drugs to the United States began in 1989, soon after Mr. Shechtman left the entertainment and publishing business. Mr. Sherman placed him on the Apotex payroll at $1,400 a week and provided him with company insurance. A few weeks later, the marketing scheme involving Silver Bullet and Interpharm was begun.

Mr. Sherman, Mr. Shechtman and Interpharm recently told Judge Ward that they want to continue exporting drugs through a “sister” company called Medicine Club International Inc. They have filed an advertisement they want to use and asked the judge whether it can be used without contravening his injunction order.

Syntex has filed an objection, saying the continued importing of drugs into the United States without FDA approval is a breach of U.S. law.”

(Peter Moon, June 19, 1993, The Globe and Mail)

As cited above – and not unlike in Apotex’s patent dispute with GlaxoSmithKline in 2003, discussed earlier – the U.S. judge found that the Apotex generic version marketed by Interpharm did not meet the U.S. quality standards.

One can see from what a U.S. civil lawsuit proceeding revealed, that with or without Morton Shulman’s involvement, Barry Sherman’s aggressive push, despite warnings of it involving “serious violation of United States law”, could sooner or later lead to a U.S. criminal investigation of him and his companies.

In contrast, in the Canadian court as noted in the above story, the U.S. company Syntex had filed lawsuits several times but had been unsuccessful every time – a top favourable factor in the Canadian court was no doubt the Canadian lawyers whom Sherman and Apotex spent a lot of money on.

In the case of Shulman’s drug for Parkinson’s disease, Apotex actually had a generic version selling by mail to the U.S. market as of early 1994, and was facing a lawsuit from the U.S. company Somerset Pharmaceuticals that owned the patent:

“The head of Canada’s largest generic drug maker has been ordered to testify as part of an American lawsuit against him and his company.

Barry Sherman, president of Apotex Inc., can’t escape testifying in the civil lawsuit by Somerset Pharmaceuticals Inc., Judge Ellen Macdonald of the Ontario Court of Justice, general division, has ruled.

Somerset argues Apotex and related companies are illegally selling deprenyl in the United States by telephone and mail order.

Somerset has a patent on the drug in the United States. It alleges Apotex, through a variety of related companies, has been selling a selegiline hydrochloride, the chemical name for the product it sells as Eldepreyl.

The drug is used to treat Parkinson’s disease and is sold in Canada as Eldepreyl by Deprenyl Research Ltd., a company founded by Morty Shulman.”

(Art Chamberlain, January 28, 1994, Toronto Star)

As the above news story told, Sherman as Apotex president did not want to testify in court on this U.S. company lawsuit, and Ontario Judge Ellen Macdonald ruled that he must testify.

In my guess, a topic Sherman may have wanted to avoid testifying in court about could be the difference between the companies Interpharm and Apotex:

“The judge rejected arguments that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should protect Sherman and the others. The case is a private matter, so the Charter does not apply, she said.

Somerset said the Apotex drugs were being sold by a Bahamian direct mail company with a telephone link to Toronto.

Sherman told The Star’s Tracey Tyler his company stopped selling generic drugs to international firms for distribution in the U.S. out of concern the practice might offend U.S. law.”

(Art Chamberlain, January 28, 1994, Toronto Star)

As told above, Sherman asserted that his company had stopped selling drugs to international firms for distribution in the U.S.; that company was Apotex as reviewed earlier. But a “Bahamian direct mail company”, namely Interpharm, with 1-800 phone numbers answered by Silver Bullet Marketing at the Apotex site as reviewed earlier, continued to sell to the U.S. market.

Apotex’s huge expenditure on lawyers to tangle with the brand-name drug companies gave Sherman the luxury of trying to evade undesirable legal consequences or inconveniences resulting from his business practice; even though he had to testify in a U.S. civil lawsuit as a Canadian judge ruled in January 1994, the FBI criminal investigation might not be that serious anymore as noted by Judge Macdonald:

“The Somerset case is set to go to trial in Florida in April, but Sherman and the other parties had refused to be examined by Somerset’s lawyers.

They argued before Macdonald that Somerset was simply on a fishing expedition, but she rejected that suggestion.

Sherman also argued there have been reports that he is subject to a criminal investigation and should not be ordered to testify against himself.

Macdonald said that “aside from media reports, there is no evidence that a criminal investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.””

(Art Chamberlain, January 28, 1994, Toronto Star)

I wonder if, as a part his settlement with Shulman reported in November 1993, discussed earlier, Sherman got Shulman’s agreement to get the FBI to ease the criminal investigation of him and his companies.

If so, the former crusading Chief Coroner of Ontario and Toronto was a little too easy to settle, and too quick to brag about it to the media, because soon in this above news story dated January 28, 1994, Sherman was cited – as quoted earlier – that Apotex was “developing a generic version of deprenyl to sell in Canada”.

As mentioned earlier, besides a high-profile $1 million lawsuit by Apotex against Morton Shulman reviewed earlier, there was a separate legal case between Shulman’s Deprenyl Research and Sherman’s Apotex regarding the latter’s generic drug move. Soon in April 1994, Shulman’s company lost that legal dispute in the Federal Court:

“Parkinson’s disease sufferers could soon save “millions of dollars” as a result of a Federal Court of Canada decision, a generic drug manufacturer says.

The court dismissed an application by Deprenyl Research Ltd. of Toronto, a brand name manufacturer, to prevent the government from licensing a cheaper generic version of one of its most profitable drugs.

Deprenyl officials say the company is planning an appeal of the Federal Court ruling as well as other unspecified legal action.

Deprenyl argued in its court application that any move to licence a generic equivalent would violate its patent.

But Associate Chief Justice James Jerome ruled the patent applies only to the process used to produce Eldepryl.

He said it does not cover the essential ingredient, selegiline hydrochloride, or the use of the medicine itself.

The decision means Apotex can proceed with its application to have its cheaper version of the drug licensed.”

(“Parkinson’s boon: Federal licence OK for generic Eldepryl”, April 29, 1994, Times – Colonist)

I note that Associate Chief Justice James Jerome’s ruling essentially sided with Sherman and Apotex, whose main argument as earlier quoted from Shulman’s autobiography was that they would use a different method than Shulman’s company’s to produce the drug.

The above news story quoted Deprenyl Research officials as saying that the company would appeal the court decision that favoured Apotex.

But barely a month later in May 1994, Shulman’s company decided to change its name to Draxis Health from Deprenyl Research – now that it would have a generic drug competitor to its drug deprenyl, marketed as Eldepryl – and readjust its focus:

“Deprenyl Research Ltd. has taken some final steps to put the Morton Shulman era behind it.

The company emerged from its annual meeting yesterday with a new name – Draxis Health Inc. – a new corporate structure and a new share option program for senior management.

President Martin Barkin said the name change reflects the company’s new focus on products other than Eldepryl, a treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Draxis recently lost a court battle and expects generic drug maker Apotex Ltd. to have a cheaper version of Draxis’s main product on the market later this year.

To reduce losses, Draxis has joined forces with Novopharm Ltd., Canada’s other major generic drug maker, to produce a cheaper version before Apotex does.”

(“Deprenyl change ends Shulman era; Company to be called Draxis and get new focus”, by Art Chamberlain, May 27, 1994, Toronto Star)

As the above story exclaimed, the name change was a part of “some final steps” to the end of “the Morton Shulman era”.

Then in 1995, there was a sort of consolation for Shulman in his crusade against Sherman – from the FBI criminal investigation, but no longer targeting Sherman personally.

Medicine Club International, as cited earlier the Bahamas-based Interpharm’s “sister” company that in 1993 Sherman and his brother-in-law Shechtman had told U.S. Judge Horace Ward would continue to sell drugs by mail in the United States, pleaded guilty to “illegal interstate commerce” and agreed to pay the maximum fine of $500,000:

“A Bahamian company has been fined $500,000 (U.S.) for selling a Canadian-manufactured generic drug in the United States without government approval.

The fine, the maximum allowed under U.S. law, is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into how U.S. residents were obtaining generic drugs from Canada, without prescriptions and without the drugs having been approved for sale by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration.

According to a plea agreement filed with the U.S. Federal Court in Greenbelt, Md., last Thursday, the drugs were manufactured by Apotex Ltd. of Toronto, Canada’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer, and distributed illegally in the United States by Medicine Club International Inc., a Bahamian trading company whose ownership was not filed in court documents.

Medicine Club, which pleaded guilty to one count of illegal interstate commerce, also agreed to pay $339,074 toward the U.S. government’s investigative costs.

In addition, Medicine Club established a $1-million letter of credit that would be forfeited to the U.S. government if it, Apotex or several other Canadian or Bahamian companies became involved again in the manufacture or distribution of unapproved drugs in the United States during the next five years.

The court ruled that the $1-million would also be forfeited if Bernard (Barry) Sherman, Apotex’s president, his brother-in-law, Allen Barry Shechtman, or six other directors or employees of Apotex became involved in the illegal distribution of drugs in the United States during the five-year period.”

(“Firm fined for illegally distributing Canadian-made drug”, by Peter Moon, January 11, 1995, The Globe and Mail)

Nothing was wrong, Sherman proclaimed, just “a business decision” to pay a fine:

“Mr. Sherman said in an interview that the FBI investigation and the subsequent criminal charge against Medicine Club occurred only because “the FDA was under immense pressure from the American drug companies to stop the personal imports (to U.S. residents from Canada).”

He noted that U.S. government tests showed that Apotex drugs that reached the United States through Medicine Club passed all the FDA’s safety tests.

Medicine Club’s guilty plea “was a business decision,” he said. “In fact, there’s no basis for any suggestion that anything improper was done, in my view.””

(Peter Moon, January 11, 1995, The Globe and Mail)

In 1997, Apotex received Canadian government approval to sell its generic version of Shulman’s drug, whereas Shulman’s former company refocused its business onto selling Anipryl, a new drug for treating dogs for Cushing’s disease, in Canada as well as entering the U.S. market:

“Management at the Mississauga-based company has high hopes that Anipryl, a drug approved last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating canine Cushing’s disease, could eventually fetch the bulk of the company’s sales.

“We are very excited to have received the FDA approval,” said Martin Barkin, company president and chief executive officer.

Since last September, monthly sales of Anipryl have shown “steady growth,” and annual sales in Canada are projected to reach $1-million.

The drug was launched this week in the United States, where the veterinary sales market is estimated to be 15 times larger than Canada’s.

“My expectation is that we will be doing 50 per cent of our business in the United States by the end of 1998 — and at least two-thirds of that from Anipryl,” Dr. Barkin said.

“The United States is one-third of the worldwide pharmaceuticals market,” said Dr. Barkin, a former Ontario deputy minister of health. He sees Anipryl as Draxis’s first big step into the U.S. market.

“We’ve gone with a much larger launch [for Anipryl] than we’ve ever had in Canada,” Dr. Barkin said. “There’s 250 reps in the field for the launch and 150 telemarketers to market it in the U.S.”

Aside from developing and marketing animal health products, Draxis sells pharmaceutical products for humans that treat disorders of the central nervous system, skin and bones. One of the company’s better known products is Eldepryl, a drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

In 1993, in an attempt to fend off competition from generic manufacturers, Draxis forged a distribution alliance with Novopharm Ltd. of Toronto to market Novo-Selegiline, Draxis’s own generic version of Eldepryl. In February, Apotex Inc. of Toronto announced it had received Canadian regulatory approval to sell a generic version of Eldepryl.”

(“Stock in the news: Analysis Draxis looks to U.S. market for sales; Canine drug Anipryl launched south of border following FDA approval”, by Andrew Poon, June 11, 1997, The Globe and Mail)

With my review, to this point, of the past media coverage I can now apprehend why Morton Shulman once described Barry Sherman as a person “with no redeeming features whatsoever”. It was clearly a sentiment from his very personal experience, but it was not illogical.

In a first-person account from his co-authored autobiography, Shulman told of a deeply personal and emotional story about Barry Sherman’s brazenness and nastiness exerting pressure on him to give up his brand-name drug patent protection, and about his fighting back by hiring private detectives to investigate Sherman’s illegal cross-border direct-mail drug selling:

“Did I ever tell you my story of Barry Sherman?

I was summoned by him in 1990, a few months after we got approval from the HPB for Eldepryl, one of my brokers called – Arnie Polan from Scotia McLeod – and said, “Barry Sherman would like to see you.”

I said, “Who’s Barry Sherman?”

“Sherman is one of the richest men in Canada. He makes more money than anydody else. He’s got the biggest generic drug company. He wants you to see him. He wants you to come to his office.”

He took me and Arnie on a tour of the place. It was wonderful. State-of-the-art; it’s a monstrous place, and he said, “I want Deprenyl and I want you to sign a contract with me and give me the rights to produce a generic competitor in June of 1993.”

This was February 1990.

I said, “Why should I give it to you?” And he said, “Because, if you don’t, I’m going to knock you off.” I said, “What’s this crap I always read in the paper where you’re saying you’re a patriotic Canadian, and you drive down the price for the multi-nationals?” And he said, “Never mind that bullshit; I want it and I’m going to have it and you’ll get a 5 per cent royalty and I’ll give you $50,000 in advance, or you’ll get nothing and I’ll take it.”

So, I went and hired Percy Parks, who went to work on him. Sherman made a lot of money legitimately, but he was greedy, and he was running an operation from Nassau called Silver Bullet Pharmaceuticals, and he was advertising in American magazines – “Prescription drugs at half price, no prescription necessary, send your check to Silver Bullet” – and when detectives traced Silver Bullet back to Toronto, it was just a mail drop.

The money was sent there, came back to Toronto and was given to D.

D. took it over to Apotex and he would take shipment of all the drugs from Apotex.

And, somehow, the situation went into the hands of the FDA, just – somehow!

You don’t know how delighted we were. And he had problems and he was too busy to worry about me.”

(Dr. Morton Shulman and Susan Kastner, 1993, Warwick Publishing Group)

Again, as recalled by Morton Shulman, Barry Sherman’s behaviour conducting business negotiation in private was in stark contrast to his public image as a compassionate and generous philanthropist, in this occasion referring to his crafted media image of “a patriotic Canadian” as “bullshit”, and making such threats to the small businessman Shulman as, “I’m going to knock you off” and “you’ll get nothing and I’ll take it”.

A different kind of “Robin Hood”, perhaps, who had no problem threatening to “knock off” a small Canadian business owner, but who also had the thought of himself being “knocked off” by Big Pharma – “the monopolies” as Sherman called the brand-name drug companies, as quoted earlier from Jeffrey Robinson’s 2001 book.

Irrespective of Apotex’s legal victory over Shulman’s company, my review thus far of some high-profile legal cases involving Sherman’s practice in the generic drug business field – including the very personal Sherman-Shulman dispute – has come upon matters of serious concern regarding the ethics of Sherman’s schemes and tactics.

So at this point, I can say that the use of the label “unethical” by some to describe Barry Sherman’s conduct in business, such as “unethical in business dealings” according to the April 2018 Maclean’s investigative article, and “unethical in business” as asserted by the law and medicine professor Amir Attaran, is justifiable.

Similar to it has been the opinion of U.S. Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks stated in 2013, who referred to Sherman’s behaviour as “egregious misconduct”:

“Canada’s generic drug king found himself on the wrong side of several shaking fingers in the past year. After Health Canada demanded a recall of Apotex’s mispackaged birth control pills (they contained too many placebos and not enough medication), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration threatened to block Apotex products for “repeated deficiencies,” including bacterial contamination. Meanwhile, a Florida judge ruled against the pharmaceutical company in a lawsuit where Apotex claimed Brussels-based UCB infringed on its patent for a manufacturing process for a blood pressure medication. United States District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks had some harsh words for Sherman, who took the stand himself. “Dr. Sherman engaged in affirmative and egregious misconduct” throughout the patent prosecution, Judge Middlebrooks wrote.”

(“A great year for billionaires”, December 9, 2013, Canadian Business)

The brief press summary above also reported that some Apotex generic drugs had serious defects, such as “too many placebos and not enough medication”, and “repeated deficiencies”, that have drawn disciplinary responses from both Canadian and U.S. government health regulators.

The Apotex drugs’ deficiencies were “repeated” according to the U.S. FDA.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the deficiencies were quite persistent, because in my review so far there were also a 2003 court ruling on a dispute with GlaxoSmithKline and a 1993 court ruling on a dispute with Syntex, stating that Apotex drugs might not contain sufficient active ingredients or did not meet U.S. quality standards; furthermore, as already discussed in detail, in a 1993 court affidavit for a civil case former Ontario Chief Coroner Morton Shulman, then a practising MD, expressed his “reasonable doubts with respect to (Apotex) and its products” – doubts regarding their “efficacy”.

As for Sherman’s “affirmative and egregious misconduct” censured by Judge Middlebrooks, I have not found media coverage of the details.

Barry Sherman may have qualified as a Canadian business legend, and a Canadian industry hero, but if and when the conduct by him and his company could carry serious ramifications to many medicine consumers around the world, the media should not avoid the controversy – not in a mature democracy with a genuine degree of press freedom.

The Sherman-Shulman dispute, due to Morton Shulman’s long-time popular public profile, received considerable media attention in 1993-1994 as did, in that same atmosphere, the FBI investigation of Barry Sherman and his companies. Media coverage of these events has served as a ‘beacon of light’ in my review to understand some history of consequential relevance.

Medicines that were developed and sold in violation of existing patents, and medicines that did not satisfy required quality standards, were typically viewed by brand-name drug companies, especially Big Pharma with its bias, as “counterfeits”, admitted author Jeffrey Robinson in his book:

“As the market for legitimate prescription drugs has grown to a colossal size, the market for illegal prescription drugs has grown alongside it.

These are illicit generics made by companies in direct violation of patent protection; counterfeit drugs that contain no active ingredients but are packaged and priced like the real thing; and substandard drugs that contain some active ingredients and are sold as the real thing but do not meet pharmacopoeial standards. Because it serves Big Pharma’s interests, illegal prescription drugs get grouped together under the heading of counterfeits. When the word “generic” can be tossed into the pot, they deliberately tar legitimate generics with the same brush as counterfeits, trying to confuse the issues of bioequivalence and counterfeit drugs to create the impression that the two words are interchangeable.”

(Jeffrey Robinson, 2001, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

As my review has shown, the repeated deficiencies of Apotex drugs, coupled with Barry Sherman’s law-breaking aggressive push of generics – putting them directly on the market in violation of existing patents and mail selling them across national border in violation of relevant regulations – have put some of Sherman’s and Apotex’s pharmaceutical business practice into the “counterfeit” domain – from the brand-name drug companies’ perspective.

It wasn’t only Morton Sherman who once hired private detectives to investigate Sherman’s businesses, but also some in Big Pharma who viewed Sherman and Apotex as “counterfeiters”.

Robinson’s book told of a story where Paul Whybrow, a former London police officer and the British police’s first undercover detective specifically dealing with financial fraud, joined a leading private investigation agency working, under a man named only as “Mr. Jones”, on counterfeit drugs and patent violations in the pharmaceutical industry, a field that offered big money to private investigation agencies in Europe – not unlike it did law firms in Canada as discussed earlier:

“Because it worked so well the first time, Whybrow was sent undercover a second time. Within a few months, his superiors realized that he had a real talent for this. So they gave him a new identity, a passport to match, a credit card and a bank account in his new name, and a safe-house address. Just like that, the City of London Police had the first official undercover officer in the entire country specifically to deal with financial fraud.

So Whybrow decided to call it a day. … Within one week, Carratu International, one of Europe’s leading private investigation agencies, offered him a job. He was taken to lunch by a man – call him Mr. Jones – who said the firm needed someone to work undercover in its pharmaceutical division to collect evidence of counterfeit drugs and of patent and trademark infringements.

At Carratu, just as they are in so many private detective agencies, pharmaceuticals are a big money market.

There were jobs for AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Glaxo Wellcome, Bayer, and Roche. After that, there were also jobs that took him through the back door. While he insists that no one ever asks anyone to do anything illegal, everyone who plays this game knows what evidence is needed. …”

(Jeffrey Robinson, 2001, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

When Mr. Jones became the lead private investigator for the German brand-name drug giant Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Whtbrow and another ex-cop Mick Flack were recruited to set up their own agency, which they called Temple Associates, to work for Mr. Jones and one of their first cases was to investigate Barry Sherman and Apotex:

“One of Carratu’s clients, the German giant Bayer Pharmaceuticals, started finding these so-called grey market drugs in pharmacies only a few blocks from its factory in Leverkusen. So Whybrow was dispatched to Switzerland to gather evidence against the culprit.

What Whybrow didn’t yet know was that Jones had a serious falling out with the management at Carratu. One day, just like that, Jones was gone. Whybrow, together with another ex-cop working at Carratu named Mick Flack, went to see Jones and found him very down in the dumps. They did whatever they could to encourage him, to assure him that he’d find another job somewhere. A few months later, Jones seemed to land on his feet, employed by Carratu’s own client, Bayer AG.

Remembering the guys who’d stood by him, Jones offered Whybrow and Flack the opportunity to leave Carratu and form their own agency. He told them he was controlling all of Bayer’s investigations, had a budget worth around £1.4 million for patent protection, and that Carratu would never get a penny of it. He told them, “You two start a business and you can have the lot.”

They were reluctant at first, but the offer was simply too good to turn down. So Whybrow and Flack set up a company called Temple Associates in Covent Garden, and went back to work for Jones.

One of the first cases he put them on to was Barry Sherman and Apotex.”

(Jeffrey Robinson, 2001, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

Mr. Jones was “obsessed with Sherman”, viewing him as “a real thorn”, “a major infringer” to be “taken down”:

““As far as Jones was concerned, Barry Sherman was a real thorn in his side. He was obsessed with Sherman, convinced that he was a major infringer, and he wanted him taken down. I’d been out to Canada on behalf of Carratu, gone through the front door of Apotex, and had an interview. Mick and I then went out to Canada together, and sat around watching the trucks going into the loading bays at the rear of the plant. We dressed in overalls and carried clipboards and walked around the loading bays to see what was coming in and going out. Sometimes we even carried a box with some stuff in it, just in case someone asked us what we were doing there. …

Not far from the Apotex loading bay was an area with picnic tables where employees would have lunch. So Whybrow and Flack sat there eating hot dogs for a couple of days, always taking notes.

“Maybe we did a week’s surveillance around the back. But the security is pretty tight at Apotex and you can forget about getting in there after hours. …””

(Jeffrey Robinson, 2001, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

Fortunately for Sherman and Apotex, in this particular private investigation the covert onsite surveillance turned up nothing incriminating. But Mr. Jones did not give up, and pressured Whybrow and Flack on the prospect of planting evidence to frame Sherman, to “get this bastard Sherman” and “take him out of the game”:

“They reported back to Jones that they didn’t yet have what he wanted. He asked them to try to get a mole inside the company, and they felt they could arrange that. But that wasn’t enough for Jones. Now he came to England to meet with Whybrow and Flack.

“We had lunch together at a country pub,”, Whybrow alleges, “and all the time, Jones is thinking about how he can get Sherman. This is no longer just business, this is personal. He doesn’t just want to compromise him in a corporate way. He’s talking about playing hardball with Barry Sherman. It was very direct. He said to us, ‘We have to get this bastard Sherman.’ He said to us, ‘What are we going to do about him? Let’s take him out of the game. Take him out.’ Mick and I both knew enough not to say anything. He could have been wired. We weren’t going to commit ourselves to anything. But Jones was suggesting everything.”

According to Whybrow and Flack, the conversation then went like this:

Jones: “What can we do?”

Whybrow: “What do you want us to do?”

Jones: “What about your contacts with the police in Canada? Could you get him stopped?’

Whybrow: “Anything’s possible.”

Jones: “Let’s say he had half a kilo in his boot.”

Whybrow insists that neither he nor Flack said anything about this.

Jones: “What’s his sexual preference? Could we get him hooked up with little girls, or even underaged boys?”

Again, Whyborw says, he and Flack refused to get drawn into this. They knew better. But, Whybrow maintains, Jones was adamant.

Jones: “We’ve got to take him off the scene. Got to take him out.””

(Jeffrey Robinson, 2001, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

Mr. Jones stated that getting Sherman was not just business, but “personal”. So it looked like that he, or much more likely his employer Bayer Pharmaceuticals, had some serious grudges against Barry Sherman – much like Morton Shulman who took his drug business dispute with Sherman very personally.

It was in this context, i.e., when author Robinson told him about these European private investigators’ story, that Sherman made his comment on the prospect of being “knocked off”, i.e., “killed”, that has previously been quoted partially from the April 2018 Maclean’s investigative article and fully from Robinson’s book; and here once again, Sherman’s words are quoted but in the broader context:

“In fairness, Whybrow adds, Jones never actually asked him to do anything illegal. All he wanted them to do, they insist, was “whatever it takes.” Whybrow thought Jones a bit reckless. But Jones never said to them, do it. Jones never asked them to commit a crime.

Whybrow now thinks Jones was really on some sort of fishing expedition. “He was looking to find out from us what we could do. He wanted Sherman taken out, but I don’t know what his solution was. He might not even have had one. Even if he did, it wasn’t going to be easy because Sherman is a very sharp operator.”

When the conversation was repeated to Sherman, he didn’t seem surprised. “The branded drug companies hate us. They have private investigators on us all the time. The thought once came to my mind, why didn’t they just hire someone to knock me off? For a thousand bucks paid to the right person you can probably get someone killed. Perhaps I’m surprised that hasn’t happened.””

(Jeffrey Robinson, 2001, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

As the ex-police detective Paul Whybrow noted, Barry Sherman was a “very sharp operator”. In the interview with author Robinson, Whybrow listed the schemes Mr. Jones had once suggested to use to frame Sherman, such as planting banned narcotics as evidence, or using “little girls” or “underaged boys” to trap him, and yet Whybrow still claimed that he did not know what Mr. Jones’s “solution” was; later when told of this story, Sherman quite probably would think of something worse. 

In spite of Barry Sherman’s flaws, author Jeffrey Robinson of the intriguing 2001 book has expressed his opinion that the Shermans’ double murder was not carried out by his “Big Pharma enemies”, because “Big Pharma doesn’t take out hits on people, at least not in North America”:

“… Robinson doubts one of Sherman’s Big Pharma enemies took out a contract on him.

“Big Pharma doesn’t take out hits on people, at least not in North America,” Robinson said. “They’ll plant a kilo of cocaine in the trunk of your car or embed kiddie porn on your computer but they won’t murder you.””

(Brad Hunter, February 1, 2018, Toronto Sun)

Mr. Robinson’s argument is learned and persuasive – he cites means similar to what Mr. Jones once suggested to the Temple Associates investigators according to the latter, as what Big Pharma would do only – but in my opinion should not be taken as conclusive. This double murder was so rare that it could well be an exception to the norm – considering how “egregious” Barry Sherman’s schemes and tactics had been in his business moves and legal battles.

When this businessman, in the drive to realize his generic drug ambitions and expand his businesses, relentlessly and aggressively flouted the laws and regulations, and yet his gargantuan business expenditures on lawyers ensured the steady growth of his success and fortune with barely a scratch of consequences for his “egregious misconduct”, who knows what some of the brand-name drug enemies of Barry Sherman’s could resort to?

(Continuing to Part 2)

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