Last year at this time the stock of GPC Biotech (Nasdaq: GPCB) began to soar on hopes for satraplatin, its lead product candidate, a treatment for prostrate cancer in patients who had not responded to chemotherapy. Unlike other treatments, satraplatin does not require injections, but rather can be taken in pill form, freeing patients to take it at home.
With Phase 3 FDA tests underway, and the company upbeat on results, stock in GPC, a German company with U.S. headquarters at 101 College Road East, went from about $13 a share to more than $37 a share in less than a year.
GPC had applied to the FDA for accelerated approval to start marketing satraplatin, but this approval was denied in July, pending GPC’s ability to provide final data on patient survival times.
In the wake of this setback, which company spokesperson Laurie Doyle says was "very surprising," the company withdrew its application for accelerated approval, and announced, on Friday, August 23, that it was laying off 46 people in its College Road facility, retaining 114 employees at that location.
Just hours later, a class action investor lawsuit was filed by a Radnor, PA, law firm, Schiffrin Barroway, alleging that GPC had failed to disclose and misrepresented adverse facts about satraplatin’s progress toward approval, including, the complaint alleges, FDA disapproval regarding the company’s choice of methodology, and FDA doubts that its data indicated that satraplatin was more effective than a placebo in terms of overall survival.
The class action complaint states that the company had been reporting positive results from its satraplatin trials and that investors "were shocked on July 20, 2007, when the FDA cited five issues it had with GPC’s NDA (New Drug Approval application)."
Doyle says that she is not free to comment on specifics of this investor complaint, but that "we will vigorously defend ourselves."
The disappointment over satraplatin has caused GPC to "put some programs on hold," says Doyle. But activity at the company continues. "We have an in-licensing program," she says. "We’re actively looking for in-licensing opportunities." These opportunities could involve taking over development or commercialization of a promising drug from another company.
Founded as Genome Pharmaceuticals Corporation in Germany in 1997, GPC aimed to enable the government-funded Max Planck Institute to commercialize its discoveries. CEO Bernd Seizinger had been a former director of the Molecular Neuro-Oncology Laboratory at Harvard/Mass General and until 1996 was vice president of oncology at Bristol Myers-Squibb.
GPC opened its first American office at Princeton Corporate Plaza in 1999 with Gregory Hamm, vice president for bioinformatics, in charge. Hamm had been director of the molecular biology computing laboratory at Rutgers and founder of the data library at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg. GPC moved to College Road four years ago. Doyle says that GPC has retained a small sales staff and a commercialization staff so that the company will be ready to move quickly if a suitable in-licensing agreement is reached.
Meanwhile, work on preparing an NDA for satraplatin continues at the 101 College Road facility. In addition, a small drug discovery group is at work on early stage drugs in the company’s Munich office.
In response to a question on whether GPC has enough cash to see these projects through, Doyle says that the company expects to have cash reserves of 60 million Euros, the equivalent of about $82 million U.S. dollars, at the end of the year, and is working to conserve that cash through cost-cutting measures, mainly lay-offs.
No further lay-offs or personnel changes are expected at this time. In announcing the 101 College Road downsizing, GPC also said that Marcel Rozencweig will be replaced as senior vice president, drug development, by Martine George, who has been with the company for a year, and who previously served as senior vice president, head of oncology, at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development.
Rozencweig came to GPC in 2001 after 18 years at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he held senior positions, including senior vice president, anti-cancer research. He will stay on with the company, where his role will involve pursuing in-licensing opportunities. Doyle says that the change had been planned as part of a succession plan, and is unrelated to the news on satraplatin.
GPC Biotech Inc. (GPCB), 101 College Road East, Princeton 08540; 609-524-1000; fax, 609-524-1050. Bernd Seizinger MD PhD, CEO. www.gpc-biotech.com.
#h#Church & Dwight#/h#
Dwight Co. has completed a 116,000-square-foot industrial lease expansion at the former Johnson & Johnson facility at 2300 Route 1 in North Brunswick that could be part of a proposed transit village. This lease bring its total occupancy at the 1.2-million-square-foot facility to more than 247,000 square feet. The company, with headquarters on 469 North Harrison Street, sells consumer products under the Arm & Hammer label and other brands. It uses the site for warehousing.
ALM Properties reports that the tenant was represented by Scott Belfer, first vice president of CB Richard Ellis, while property owner North Brunswick TOD Associates, the group spearheading the drive for the transit village ( www.ourtowncenter.info), was represented by brokers from Lee & Klatskin Associates. Terms were not released. Available space at the property is currently listed with an asking price of from $2.99 to $4 per square foot.
"Church & Dwight recently acquired Orange Glo International," Belfer says. "They needed this additional space to accommodate their growing operations."
Reports on the financial website GlobeSt.com indicate that Church & Dwight initially signed on at 2300 Route 1 in late 2006, taking 213,000 square feet. At the same time, Furniture X-Change, a reseller of corporate office furniture took nearly 68,000 square feet of warehouse space. Also still on-site is Johnson & Johnson, which retained more than 200,000 feet after it sold the campus to North Brunswick TOD Associates earlier in 2006 for an undisclosed price.
North Brunswick TOD Associates, an affiliate of the Short Hills-based Garden Homes and Garden Commercial Properties, bought the surplus J&J property with the stated intention of redeveloping the 212-acre site. Officials of the company indicated in 2006 that they would offer the 1.2 million square feet of building space for lease on a short-term basis pending final plans and redevelopment.
The transit village development now under discussion would include office, retail, residential, and hotel uses, as well as a new commuter rail station. According to Jonathan Frieder, managing partner for the ownership group, the eventual build-out will likely be contained within the footprint of the existing buildings.
#h# Other Expansions#/h#
Wathne Ltd., 90 Stults Road, Dayton 08810; 609-655-8222; fax, 609-655-5795. Bobby Tramontano, manager.
Wathne Ltd. makers of fine handbags and luggage, is slated to move from 90 Stults Road to 77,000 square feet at 1 Capital Drive. The new quarters, owned by ProLogis, has 202,000 square feet on 95 acres in Cranbury business park.
Based in Manhattan, Wathne distributes such fashion accessory brands as Polo/Ralph Lauren, Estee Lauder, Chanel, and Land’s End.
Wathne is subleasing space from Newegg.com, according to Scott Belfer of CB Richard Ellis headed the team that arranged the lease. Newegg, a seller of computer hardware and software and consumer electronics, expanded to Edison last year.
Authentic Education, 10 East Broad Street, Box 148, Hopewell 08525; 609-466-8080; fax, 609-466-4033. Grant Wiggins, president. Home page: www.authenticeducation.org.
Authentic Education moved its five-person office from 10 Blackwell to its current address in Hopewell. Offering staff development and consulting services, it focuses on design and teaching for understanding, effective assessment, and thoughtful school change. It provides clients with state-of-the-art educational thinking, tools, and training.
Keller Williams Realty, 100 Horizon Center Boulevard, Robbinsville 08691; 609-259-8444; fax, 609-259-3399. Micah Senter, market center administrator. Home page: www.kw.com.
The Keller Williams Realty office at 2271 Route 33 has moved to Robbinsville. This full-service real estate firm serves Mercer, Burlington, Ocean, Monmouth and Middlesex counties.
#h#New in Town#/h#
Synergy Bank, 761 Route 33, West Windsor Crossing, East Windsor 08520; 800-693-3838; fax, 609-443-7993. Home page: www.synergyonthenet.com
Synergy Bank has opened a freestanding office at the new Windsor Crossing shopping center in East Windsor. It will occupy the full 3,000 square feet on the first floor.
Headquartered in Cranford, the bank has branch offices throughout Central New Jersey. It was founded as a federal credit union in 1952 by a group of employees from a major New Jersey pharmaceutical company. In 1998, Synergy’s members voted to convert from a credit union to a bank.
Technicianx Computers: Montgomery Computer & Office Supply, 1340 Route 206, Skillman 08558; 609-681-1120; fax, 609-681-1124. Christopher A. Beyer, president. Home page: www.technicianx.com.
Princeton Computers changed its name to Technicianx Computers to distinguish itself from other companies with similar names. The firm does information technology support for small businesses, including network security, network configuration, and hardware maintenance.
Cash Gauge Software, 609-468-1574. Tom Scott, founder. Home page: www.cashgauge.com.
Cash Gauge Software, which has software that projects cash positions into the future, moved out of 16 Vandeventer in Princeton. The founder, Tom Scott, says the virtual company has 25 customers on three continents.
A graduate of Northwestern, Class of 1979, with an MBA from Harvard, Scott was executive vice president of sales and marketing at the Helmsman Group, founded by Kenneth Kay. When the company was sold to Microsoft, he was vice president of direct sales. He has joined his friend, Flint Lane, founder of Billtrust, and is now vice president of sales there.
ImagiNet, 3175 Princeton Pike, Lawrenceville 08648. www.imaginetnj.com.
Imaginet, a 40-person pre-production press company, has closed its Lawrence office, and consolidated operations at its sister facility in North Bergen, Metroweb Corp. (http:metrowebnj.com, 201-553-0700). Kyle Vogel, senior manager at Metroweb, says that "it didn’t make sense to have two facilities just 60 miles apart."
Floyd Weinstock, M.D., 53, on August 24 in a rollerblading accident. He was an ophthalmologist on Franklin Corner Road.