The board of Xechem International has decided to downsize the firm’s New Brunswick office, remove the founding CEO, and focus the firm’s efforts on Nicosant, a drug developed in Nigeria to combat sickle cell disease.

Former CEO Ramesh Pandey will continue as a board member but is no longer in charge of day-to-day operations; the financial arrangements of his departure are still being discussed.

“There is not enough activity to justify the continued annual expense in excess of $250,000 to hold onto our New Jersey facilities,” said Robert Swift, interim CEO and Xechem board member, in a prepared statement.

Though Nicosant does not cure sickle cell disease, it reduces or eliminates the sickle cell “crises” that patients experience. It has been sold in Nigeria for a year and has orphan drug designation in the United States and the European Union.

Xechem will produce Nicosant in Nigeria, says Swift, and it will collaborate with other institutions to develop another sickle cell drug, 5-HMF, which has been licensed from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Swift has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Michigan State and an MBA in finance from Indiana University. He plans to hold a shareholder meeting by the end of the year.

To develop the sickle cell drug, Xechem used $4.2 million settlement from a paclitaxel antitrust suit against Bristol-Myers Squibb. Xechem’s other products include Vancomycin (an antibiotic produced by fermentation), various nutraceutical products, a generic form of paclitaxel, and nine next-generation paclitaxel analogs. Though Xechem stock was rescued 10 years ago by a big investment from David Blech, it is trading in the pennies now.

The company expects to retain its employees (from 60 to 80 worldwide), says a spokesperson, who declined comment on why Pandey lost his job.

According to Pandey’s official biography, he grew up in the foothills of the Himalayas in North India, where his father was the personal doctor for a royal family. He founded Xechem in 1990.

Xechem Inc./Xechem International Inc. (XKEM), 100 Jersey Avenue, Building B, Suite 310, New Brunswick 08901-3279; 732-247-3300; fax, 732-247-4090. Home page: www.xechem.com.

Expansions

Stark & Stark, 993 Lenox Drive, Building Two, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-896-9060; fax, 609-896-0629. John A. Sakson, Lewis J. Pepperman, co-managing partners. Home page: www.stark-stark.com.

Stark & Stark has bought two Bucks County law practices — Marston & Shensky in Doylestown and Liederbach, Hahn, Foy & Van Blunk in Richboro. The two offices are scheduled to move to Yardley later this year.

With this addition of seven attorneys and eight staffers, the nearly 75-year-old firm will have 104 attorneys and about 195 support staff members. It also has offices in Philadelphia, New York, and Marlton.

Crosstown Moves

Princeton Forrestal Village (), 114 Stanhope Street, Princeton Forrestal Village, Princeton 08540; 609-799-7400; fax, 609-799-0245. David B. Kuna, senior property manager. Home page: www.thegalecompany.com.

Princeton Forrestal Village has moved its offices from 201 Rockingham Row to 114 Stanhope Street.

Downsizing

CNA Insurance Company (CNA), 1249 South River Road, Cranbury Executive Center, Box 904, Cranbury 08512; 609-395-2500; Peter Wilson. Home page: www.cna.com.

CNA Insurance Company, headquartered in Chicago, just moved from 1100 Cornwall Road in Monmouth Junction to 1249 South River Road in Cranbury. U.S. Specialty Lines is among the groups here.

The current staff figure, 350 people, has not changed, but the square footage has decreased from 100,000 to 70,000. The official starting date at the new location was Monday, July 16. The phone is new, and the new fax was not available at press time.

New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians, 4 AAA Drive, Hamilton 08691; 609-323-4012; fax, 609-323-4014. Bryan Markowitz, executive director. Home page: www.njsop.org.

The New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians, the professional association of optometrists, moved at the end of April from 20 Texas Avenue in Lawrenceville to a smaller space in Hamilton to reduce expenses.

Re/Max Excel, 375 Route 130, East Windsor 08520; 609-918-1500; fax, 609-918-1166. Karen Wagner, owner. Home

Re/Max Excel has consolidated its East Windsor and Bordentown offices at the Bordentown location, 1028 Route 206.

Spectrum Scientific Recruiters, Box 639, Plainsboro 08536; 609-936-8850; fax, 609-936-9344. Scott Nagrod, president, senior recruiter. www.spectrumscientific.com.

Spectrum Scientific Recruiters, which specializes in professional search and recruitment for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, has left 666 Plainsboro Road, Suite 2000F, for another office in Plainsboro. Interested parties can call or E-mail the owner, Scott Nagrod, at scott@spectrumscientific.com.

Leaving Town

Streamline Mortgage & Finance, 155 Willowbrook Boulevard, Wayne 07470; 609-406-0111; fax, 609-406-9055. Raul Sanchez, general manager.

After almost three years at Parkway Corporate Center in Ewing, the mortgage company closed its 1230 Scotch Road office. Calls are being taken at an address in Wayne, New Jersey.

Fleetmatics, 196 Princeton-Hightstown Road, Building 2B, Suite 116, West Windsor 08550. Home page: www.fleetmatics.com.

Fleetmatics, which uses satellites and web-based software to track vehicle locations, has closed its office in West Windsor. Interest parties may contact the New York office at 869 Old Country Road in Westbury, 516-478-6716.

Law Offices of Richard C. Metz, 2642 Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road, Hamilton 08619; 609-631-9220; fax, 609-631-9226.

Richard C. Metz, who does family, real estate, and municipal law, has left his offices at 2642 Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road. Metz did not respond immediately to phone messages.

People’s Choice Asset Management Group, 103 Carnegie Center, Suite 111, Princeton 08540. David E. Zimmer CFA, executive vice president. Home page: www.pchl.com.

After two years at the Carnegie Center, People’s Choice closed its mortgage portfolio office. A representative at the headquarters in Irvine, California did not return reporters’ calls.

Plimpton Yang, 34 Chambers Street, Princeton 08542; 520-327-2339; fax, 609-924-8236. David C.A. Plimpton, managing partner and president. Home page: www.plimpton.com.

Plimpton Yang, a venture capital company providing early and expansion funding for Internet technology, biotechnology, and specialty chemicals, has left its downtown office. The phone has been disconnected; and directory assistance has no listing.

Schwartz Simon Edelstein Celso & Kessler LLP, 2277 Route 33, Hamilton Square. www.sseck.com.

This two-attorney satellite office of the Florham Park-based law firm has closed.

Contracts Awarded

Battelle Ventures LP, 103 Carnegie Center, Suite 100, Princeton 08540; 609-921-1456; fax, 609-921-8703. Mort Collins, general partner. www.battelleventures.com

Battelle Memorial Institute has added $70 million to Battelle Ventures, a Princeton-based fund that invests in early-stage companies. Now the four-year-old fund has $220 million to invest and 13 active portfolio companies. It focuses on the security, health and life sciences sectors, as well as energy and environment.

“When the fund was established, we had projected 20 to 25 investments during the life of the fund; we now expect to invest in at least 30,” said Mort Collins, general partner.

Deaths

Anna Cybuch Biesiada, 38, on July 10. She was a waitress at Doral Forrestal Conference Center.

Mercedes Paulette Cummings (Escudero) on July 12. She was a customer service representative at Innophos on Prospect Plains Road.

James J. Sheeran, 84 on July 16. A former New Jersey insurance commissioner, he co-founded NJ CURE and NJ PURE, auto insurance and medical malpractice insurance companies respectively. Funeral services will be Thursday, July 19, at 9:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Church on Nassau Street.

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