South Asians who worked for rival pharmaceutical companies face allegations of accepting and leaking out trade secrets

Jeremy Desai

IN a lawsuit filed in the U.S. by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Jeremy Desai, who last Friday (January 26) resigned as President and CEO of Apotex Inc., faces allegations that he accepted trade secrets from Teva employee Barinder Sandhu with whom he was in a romantic relationship.

Apotex is the generic drug company founded by Canadian billionaire Barry Sherman, who was found murdered along with his wife in their Toronto home last December. Teva is an Israel-based pharmaceutical company.

Although this lawsuit was reported by FiercePharma and other U.S. publications last July, a Canadian Press report last week on the same lawsuit has been widely reported in Canadian media.

According to last year’s FiercePharma report: “The lawsuit alleges that, over a period of about two years ending in 2016, Teva employee Barinder Sandhu copied company files onto flash drives and passed them to Apotex CEO Jeremy Desai. Sandhu was fired in October 2016, according to the suit, which also lists Desai and Apotex as defendants.”

It also stated: “Teva hired Sandhu in 2012 and promoted her to the regulatory affairs perch in the spring of 2014, handing her a salary of $193,000 plus a potential annual bonus of 30% of that haul, the suit says. A few months later, Desai was named CEO of Apotex. The two were already romantically involved and living together in Pennsylvania, according to the suit.”

Teva said it learned of this from a former Apotex employee and emails sent from Sandhu to Desai from her work computer. Teva is seeking damages from Desai and Apotex for “wilful and malicious misappropriation” of trade secrets.

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

Apotex filed a motion to dismiss the complaint as being based on insufficient facts to withstand scrutiny.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.