Toronto billionaire and philanthropist Barry Sherman and his wife were found dead in their mansion Friday (15 December), and police said they were investigating the deaths as suspicious.

Const. David Hopkinson would not identify the two bodies found at the home of Apotex founder Bernard "Barry" Sherman and his wife Honey. But Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins said the couple had been discovered dead.

Hopkinson said it was early in the police investigation and authorities "are inside investigating and taking apart the scene."

"The circumstances of their death appear suspicious and we are treating it that way," Hopkinson said at a news conference held outside the couple's home.

Hopkinson said police were called to the Shermans' home in an upscale neighborhood of north Toronto just before noon on Friday in response to a "medical complaint."

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

Hopkinson said the deaths are not currently being treated as homicides, adding that more investigation will be necessary.

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins sent a tweet expressing shock at the death of his "dear friends," who he described as "wonderful human beings."

"I am beyond words right now," Hoskins wrote in his tweet. "Incredible philanthropists, great leaders in health care. A very, very sad day."

Barry Sherman was the chairman of generic drug maker Apotex, which he founded in 1974 with two employees. It went on to become the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company.

Along the way he amassed a vast fortune, which Canadian Business magazine estimated at $4.77 billion Canadian (US$3.65 billion) to make him the 15th richest Canadian, as well as lawsuits from family members who alleged they got cut out of a share of the company.

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.

Sherman has also been an active philanthropist, including donating $50 million Canadian (US$39 million) to the United Jewish Appeal. He had also become an active fundraiser for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal party in recent years, but was criticized for holding a pay-for-access fundraiser in August 2015 that included Trudeau while being registered as a lobbyist.

Apotex called news of the deaths "tragic."

"All of us at Apotex are deeply shocked and saddened by this news and our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time," the company said in a statement.

The address where the bodies were found was recently listed for sale for $6.9 million Canadian (US$5.4 million). Neighbors confirmed that the property was the couple's home.