Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Mystery Behind the Reality

"He used to belong to my tennis club. It was a joke. He couldn't move around. He moved around with his brain ... He tried. He isn't athletic physically at all."
"That's why when they [Toronto Police Force, mainstream media] said it was a murder-suicide, it's so impossible. It's like when a duck and a pussy-cat get together in the same cage and the pussycat dies, you say the duck killed the pussycat."
"He didn't have the physical strength to do it or the inclination. He was a very gentle person."
Murray Rubin, Sherman family friend

"As has already been mentioned, he would correct your grammar no matter who you were."
"He pretty well thought he was smarter than everyone else, and he wasn't wrong about that."
"But he was also humble and he was incapable of putting on airs. With Barry, it was no bullshit pretty much all the time."
Jack Kay, Apotex associate

"They [large pharmaceutical manufacturers] hate us. They have private investigators on us all the time, trying to investigate. 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."
"I have always been very conscious of my personal mortality."
Prescription Games, Barry Sherman, deceased
Jonathon Sherman cries as he and family members walk to the stage during a memorial service for his parents Barry and Honey Sherman. Nathan Denette/Canadian Press

"I met Sherman a couple of times in the mid '90s, having worked my way up the Apotex management structure whilst posing undercover as an international pharmaceutical procurement agent looking to buy product."
"At this time the pharmaceutical industry had some very dark corners, one of which was occupied by Sherman et al."
"As a businessman I believe that Sherman was ruthless in pursuit of fame and indeed fortune. Without doubt, in those days, he made enemies and was not the philanthropic all-around good guy that he is now being painted. He was always politically connected, but I believe he saw this as a form of, perhaps, protection."
Paul Whybrow, private investigator, former undercover fraud detective, Scotland Yard
Barry Sherman and Honey Sherman at the 2016 Toronto Action Party. Adrian Holmes/Postmedia

On Monday, two of Canada's wealthiest people were found dead in the basement of their Toronto mansion, hanging from posts astride their lap pool. Their house was on the Toronto real estate market for sale for multiple millions, and it was their realtor who had entered the house, discovering the deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman. On Thursday, an estimated six thousand people attended the massive funeral service at the Toronto convention centre. Eulogies were heard from close family, from the Premier of Ontario and the Prime Minister of Canada.

In his eulogy for his parents, son Jonathon Sherman expressed his contempt for the media, no less so for the police who had theorized that the deaths of his parents represented one of two scenarios; a double suicide or alternately a murder-suicide. The billionaire couple's children spoke of the warmth, love and commitment of their parents to one another, that there were no circumstances under heaven that would compel their father to seek death for himself and his wife. The gruesome death scene in fact made no sense whatever in the context of a murder-suicide.

The Sherman family has expressed its utter lack of faith in the interpretive and investigative work of the police by hiring their own private investigator, by ensuring a second autopsy was undertaken by a private pathologist, the results of which have not yet been divulged. The first autopsy attested to death by strangulation but the whys and wherefores are completely unaccounted for.  Immediately on news of the shocking deaths, friends, acquaintances and business colleagues all spoke of the warmth and philanthropic generosity of the owners of Canada's foremost generic pharmaceutical firm.

And, aside from hiring a lawyer in pursuit of the family's interests, the family has taken independent steps for their personal safety and security in light of what some as-yet undetermined conspiratorial force destroyed their parents' lives. The two owners of the pharmaceutical firm were indeed wealthy, they were important in the social and political life of the city and the country and points abroad and were feted for their generous philanthropy. Barry Sherman's personality was described as cantankerous, his wife as bubbly and kind, in effect his personal envoy to the world they inhabited.

Barry Sherman's professional life began with work for an uncle who owned Empire Laboratories, a generic prescription drugs distributor. On his uncle's death, the nephew bought out the company together with a friend. A decade later the company was sold to an an international company. Which led to the Shermans founding a new business a year later, the manufacturer of genetic pharmaceuticals, Apotex. Apotex and Sherman were no stranger to lawsuits, some rising out of the challenge of patent expirations; over 1,200 case files involving Apotex are on record.

But there is yet another, more personal lawsuit against Barry Sherman, one launched by his cousins, offspring of the uncle whose firm he bought out, who contend that they are owed a significant share of the profits of Apotex, founded with the profit gained from the sale of their father's original company. Those same cousins were being supported by Apotex and Sherman to the value of millions of dollars, an arrangement they felt insufficient to reflect their interests, determined to dredge from the company a financial settlement more generous in recognition of what they perceived as their just due.

Sherman became such an irritating presence with his constant challenges to patent expiration that large pharmaceutical companies engaged in ethically indefensible, illegal and criminal activities in an effort to disrupt his campaign to provide less expensive alternatives to the drugs that they had developed and which he planned to manufacture and distribute. Paul Whybrow spoke of meeting with a Big Pharma representatives who wanted to exploit innuendo charging that Sherman had a proclivity for sex with children, completely unfounded and out of character. Alternately, attempts to pursue placing cocaine in his vehicle.

Honey Sherman was the social and personable antidote to her husband's brash and prickly personality; where he doggedly pursued his agenda of push-back and the undermining of the patent privileges of pharmaceutical companies, she attended fundraisers, sat on boards and exhibited the social graces her husband lacked. The Baycrest Foundation, the Mount Sinai Women's Auxiliary, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto, the Holocaust Education Centre and the board of governors of York University all benefited from her involvement with them.
"I don't think Honey was ever in what could be called good health from the time I met her. And yet, between multiple back, hip, and shoulder surgeries for her crippling arthritis to recently surviving throat cancer, Honey was the most fun-loving, energetic, and uncomplaining person I ever met."
"Recently, I asked Honey what motivated her in her life. Why did she live the way she did, so focused on others, so consistently engaged in acts of charity, rather than the usual selfish pursuits of billionaires? She answered that she was sure being the daughter of Holocaust survivors had much to do with it."
Senator Barbara Frum
Barry Sherman himself engaged in political fundraising for the Liberal Party of Canada, filing a lawsuit in May in an effort to block the lobbying commissioner investigating political fundraisers that he had held for Justin Trudeau in 2015 and 2016. As far as he was concerned any such investigation represented "an unanchored fishing expedition". One Liberal leadership candidate was forced to return $27,000  in donations in 2006 received from five children of Apotex executives, inclusive of two $5,400 donations ostensibly from two 11-year-old twins. A practise that without doubt would have met the uncritical philosophy of Justin Trudeau.
"He really led the way, with some other companies, in making a competitive Canadian generic industry."
"It clearly led to much lower prices than otherwise, having generic manufacturers competing in the market."
Aidan Hollis, economics professor, University of Calgary

"That lobbying has succeeded in keeping Canadian drug prices for generics artificially high."
"Our generic drug prices are really, really, really ripping us off. And this was Mr. Sherman's life work."
Amir Attaran, law professor, University of Ottawa

"It became a concern of our governments to make medication accessible at a moderate price. In that respect he was a pioneer, without a doubt. And I dare say, so was I. We were the two major forces to make available many expansive brand name products available to the public at a moderate, low price, once they became genericized. That's a definite contribution of both companies in terms of public health."
"He does [did] things his way, I do things my way. Our relationship was as expected. He did a lot of good for the community. You have to look at the good side."
Leslie Dan, founder, Novopharm, Apotex competitor
The Toronto Police Force veered away from its original declarations of possible murder-suicide toward declaring the deaths to be 'suspicious'. Despite which, the deaths have not been identified as homicides, and nor have the police issued any public statement to the effect that they were seeking out suspects.

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