Autopsies underway for pharmaceutical billionaires found dead in their Toronto home

TORONTO — Investigators are awaiting the results of autopsies performed on Apotex founder Barry Sherman and his wife Honey before determining next steps in the ongoing probe into their suspicious deaths, police said Saturday.

Const. David Hopkinson said the autopsies were being performed a day after the billionaire and philanthropists were found dead in their north Toronto mansion. Police have described the deaths as suspicious, but offered no other details to date.

“Investigators will wait for the results of the post mortem. They will then determine the course of their investigation and only then will they issue a statement,” Hopkinson said in an email.

Hopkinson declined to officially identify the victims, but statements from Apotex and politicians across the country on Friday named the Shermans as the deceased.

Apotex described their deaths as shocking and tragic, while other statements praised the Shermans’ numerous philanthropic efforts.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau were among those to offer a tribute to the couple through social media.

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

Police were called to the Shermans’ home in an upscale neighbourhood of north Toronto just before noon on Friday in response to a “medical complaint.”

They declined to say whether the bodies showed signs of trauma and did not provide details on the time or cause of death.

Police said homicide investigators are involved in the case, though the deaths have not officially been classified as homicides. They previously indicated that there were no signs of forced entry into the home and that they were not seeking any suspects.

Barry Sherman founded Toronto-based Apotex Inc. in 1974 with two employees and gradually turned it into the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company.

Along the way he amassed a vast fortune, recently estimated by Canadian Business magazine at $4.77 billion, making him the 15th richest person in the country.

Sherman faced legal action from family members alleging they had been cut out of the company over the years.

As a producer of more than 300 generic pharmaceutical products, Apotex has itself seen a number of litigation issues, as companies have pushed back on its efforts to sell cheaper no-name options.

Today, the company has more than 10,000 people in research, development, manufacturing and distribution facilities world-wide, with more than 6,000 employees at its Canadian operations. Those include manufacturing and research facilities concentrated in the Toronto area as well as in Winnipeg.

Apotex released a statement on Saturday paying tribute to its founder, praising both his philanthropic efforts and what it described as his vision for health care.

“Patients around the world live healthier and more fulfilled lives thanks to his life’s work, and his significant impact on healthcare and healthcare sustainability will have an enduring impact for many years to come,” the statement read. “As employees, we are proud of his tremendous accomplishments, honoured to have known him, and vow to carry on with the Apotex purpose in his honour.”

Honey Sherman was a member of the board of the Baycrest Foundation and the York University Foundation. She also served on the boards of Mount Sinai’s Women’s Auxiliary, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the International American Joint Distribution Committee.

The Shermans were among Canada’s most generous philanthropists and also organized funding of charitable causes through the Apotex Foundation. The couple made numerous multimillion-dollar donations to hospitals, schools and charities and had buildings named in their honour.

The address where the bodies were found was recently listed for sale for $6.9 million. Neighbours confirmed that the property was the couple’s home.

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