Federal agents swarmed through the offices of Ranbaxy’s laboratories on College Road in the Princeton Forrestal Center on February 14. Food and Drug Administration investigators removed paper and electronic documents, according to Chuck Caprariello, vice president of corporate communications and government affairs for Ranbaxy Inc. The agents also went to the company’s Ohm Laboratories facility on Terminal Road in North Brunswick.

The searches were a surprise, says Caprariello, and the company is not aware of any wrongdoing. “Whatever questions they might have, we are trying to address and resolve. We are cooperating fully with officials,” he says. He does not know whether the investigation is for a civil or criminal matter, noting that the warrant is vague. The FDA has declined to comment.

“Meanwhile, our operations continue as normal,” says Caprariello, pointing out that Ranbaxy has been operating for decades in a complex global business environment in one of the most highly competitive and regulated industries. “The company has consistently delivered high quality affordable medicines to millions across the world — including those in the most demanding markets.”

An article in the Business Standard newspaper, datelined New Delhi, says that the FDA’s descent on the Ranbaxy facilities comes at a time when pharmaceutical companies based in the United States and the United Kingdom are trying to preserve their share of the market for generic medicines, a market that could grow to $300 billion in five years, in the face of competition from India-based firm. In response to various legal challenges, the newspaper reports, Ranbaxy has had to pay $55 million in legal fees in the last two years.

Based near New Delhi, Ranbaxy has customers in 125 countries and operations in 49 countries. It bought three companies in Europe last year and has manufacturing operations in nine countries.

But the bulk of Ranbaxy’s sales, outside of India, are in the United States. The firm has 521 employees in the United States including 100 on College Road and 348 at the two Ohm Laboratories manufacturing sites, one in North Brunswick and one in New Brunswick.

The United States division has been operating since 1995 and has approvals to make 119 drugs, and about 48 of them are produced at Ohm Laboratories. Last month Ranbaxy obtained FDA approval for a generic version of Zoloft, Pfizer’s antidepressant.

Ranbaxy Inc., 600 College Road East, Suite 2100, Princeton 08540; 609-720-9200; fax, 609-720-1155. Dipak Chattaraj, president. www.ranbaxyusa.com

Stock News

Palatin Technologies Inc. (PTN), 4C Cedar Brook Drive, Cranbury 08512; 609-495-2200; fax, 609-495-2201. Carl Spana PhD, CEO. www.palatin.com

In a stock offering that closed on February 15, Palatin Technologies netted $26 million. It sold 13.75 million shares at $2 per share.

The firm has products for sexual dysfunction and appendicitis detection, also to facilitate ultrasound testing, and it is partnering with AstraZeneca to develop obesity drugs.

Also this month, Palatin’s nasal spray, now in clinical trials, was featured in a Forbes Magazine article on 13 ways to spice up a sex life. Applied 10 or 15 minutes prior to sex, it increases blood flow in penile or vaginal tissue. This drug is not on the market; the only way to get it is to be enrolled in the clinical trial.

New in Town

Special Materials Company, 700 Alexander Park, Suite 302, Princeton 08540; 609-720-0080. Mark Silver, president. www.smc-global.com

Special Materials Company, a manufacturer of specialty chemicals for industry, has consolidated its office in Cherry Hill and Doylestown into a new space at Alexander Park. The decade-old firm has three plants in China and one in the Untied States, and it sells globally to the oil, motion picture, imaging, electronics, paints and coatings, and paper industries. It has warehouses in North America and Europe.

The move to Princeton will take advantage of both its technical talent pool and proximity to New York City, where the company still maintains an office.

According to president Mark Silver, the company has been growing about 50 percent per year for the last eight years, growth that he attributes to the firm’s cost structure.

Silver, who graduated from Cleveland State with a bachelor’s degree in English, has over 22 years of experience in the chemical industry and was previously vice president of IMC Group, where he started and developed its inorganic chemical manufacturing business.

Lawyer Moves

Miller Mitchell PC/Fox Rothschild, 997 Lenox Drive, Building 3, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-896-3600; fax, 609-896-1469. www.foxrothschild.com

On February 12 Cathryn A. Mitchell and Richard M. Miller announced that, after 13 years in their own law practice, they are joining Fox Rothschild, where they will be partners. The national full service law firm has 400 attorneys, and the Princeton Pike address has 70 attorneys.

The couple had worked together for Prince Sports Group in years past and Mitchell opened her own practice in 1994; she was then joined by her husband.

Mitchell is past president of the Princeton Bar Association. Her national litigation practice involves intellectual property ownership, protection of trade secrets, and the validity of restrictive covenants.

Miller had been general counsel for Prince Sports and has been on the corporate legal staff of Chesebrough-Ponds, Bausch & Lomb, and Shearson Loeb Rhoades. His practice includes the strategic buying and selling of global businesses and the financing and refinancing of client businesses. Miller’s direct line will be 609-844-3026 and Mitchell’s will be 609-844-3025.

Nyce Crime Watch

Though he received only an eight-year sentence for a manslaughter charge of murdering his wife, former pharmaceutical CEO Jonathan Nyce has filed an appeal for a new trial, saying that Judge Bill Mathesius “demeaned” his attorney, Robin Lord, in front of the jury, and that Mathesius allowed prosecutors to introduce statements and evidence taken before he had engaged an attorney.

Lord, who has declined to comment on the appeal, had filed similar motions based on similar reasons.

Nyce’s new attorney, Paul W. Bergrin, graduated from Brooklyn College in 1977, and has his J.D. degree from Nova University in Florida. As a U.S. Army major he served 11 overseas tours from 1980 to 2003. His website says he successfully defended a soldier accused of torturing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. He was also a litigator in the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey.

But Nyce saw his appeal delayed when Bergrin’s offices were raided by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Bergrin was required to make bail on charges of taking over a prostitution ring after his client, a pimp, was arrested. According to a February 16 Trenton Times report, Bergrin is also reportedly a suspect in the murder of a witness in a federal drug case.

Regulation Watch

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), One Johnson & Johnson Plaza, New Brunswick 08903; 732-524-0400; fax, 732-214-0332. William C. Weldon, chairman & CEO. Home page: www.jnj.com

Michael J. Dormer left his job as former worldwide chairman of medical devices and diagnostics for Johnson & Johnson. J&J voluntarily revealed that it may have made improper payments that could have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Dormer said that he had “ultimate responsibility” for the J&J subsidiaries being investigated.

Crosstown Moves

Computer Care, 241 Forsgate Drive, Suite 208, Jamesburg 08831; 732-656-0673; fax, 732-656-0856. Rick Graham, co-owner. www.computercare.com

A software firm moved from 109 South Main Street in Cranbury to 1,400 square feet at Forsgate Drive. Its clients are apparel importers and manufacturers.

The firm was founded by Abe Landsberg, now retired, and is run now by Rick Graham and Gerard Presepe.

Mertz Architects Box 1016, Pennington 08534; 609-737-7976; fax, 609-718-0189. www.mertzarchitects.com

Mertz Architects moved out of its 65 Main Street, Pennington, office to temporary quarters after it had been flooded four times in four years. Gary Mertz reports that the firm is growing; it does both commercial and residential design.

Deaths

Bruce Manning Metzger, 93, on February 13. Professor emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary, he chaired the Committee of Translators for the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible 1977-90.

Judith H. Miller, 65, on February 19. She was an environmental scientist with the state Department of Environmental Protection and later with VanNote Harvey, Cytogen, and Rhodia.

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