PLATTSBURGH — The number of pharmaceutical-industry jobs in Rouses Point is expected to increase during the next few years.

Speaking at a Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Forum today, Akrimax Chairman Joseph Krivulka said he doesn’t anticipate layoffs, but there may be some retraining and shifting of positions.

“We expect to bring in 200 people in the next 12 to 24 months,” he said later at a meeting with the Press-Republican Editorial Board.

According to records on file at the Clinton County Clerk’s Office, Akrimax purchased the 950,000-plus-square-foot Wyeth facility in Rouses Point — except for the Chemical Development building — for slightly more than $7.86 million in mid January.

“This facility is the gem of the Wyeth group,” Krivulka said, noting it has an excellent record with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.



LOTS OF ROOM

He said the 78-acre property leaves room for Akrimax to expand, if necessary.

Wyeth will continue to operate the plant under a lease agreement and will be the employer of record during the transition period. That is expected to run until the end of 2009 but could last until 2011, Krivulka said.

He said the longer Wyeth stays in the facility, the easier it is for Akrimax to line up enough new products to manufacture to use the plant’s capacity. There is plenty of room, as Wyeth is only using about 20 percent of the building, Krivulka said.

He said that during its first month of operation, Akrimax had sales of $10.9 million.



METABOLIC SYNDROME

Akrimax has already acquired patents associated with Wyeth’s beta-blocking drug Inderal, as well as the contraceptive Ovral and its low-dose companion, Lo Ovral.

Krivulka said Akrimax is focused on acquiring pharmaceuticals that can be used for the treatment of metabolic syndrome. That is described on the American Heart Association Web site as a combination of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and abdominal obesity.

Medications used to treat only one symptom don’t always work well with those used to treat other symptoms, he said, and he hopes Akrimax can help with that.

The company also plans to engage in contract manufacture of pharmaceuticals for Wyeth and other companies.

Akrimax will not be involved in research, Krivulka said, but will work to develop and enhance uses for pharmaceuticals.



LURE OF ROUSES POINT

Chamber President Garry Douglas said Krivulka and his team recognized the true value of Wyeth’s Rouses Point operation was the workforce.

Krivulka said that even though the cost of doing business in New York state is higher than it might have been at a site they were looking at in North Carolina, the location, workforce and strong management team at Wyeth in Rouses Point were enough to make the difference.

Location played a factor because Rouses Point is situated between Montreal and Boston, both with a large biotechnology-industry presence. Those are the type of companies for which Akrimax could perform manufacturing, marketing and even distribution.



COMMUNITY OUTREACH

Akrimax plans to build relationships with the education community, Krivulka said. That will not only benefit the educational institutions but will help with development of additional skilled employees, who won’t have to leave the region for jobs.

The company doesn’t plan to sever any long-standing relationships with other parts of the community, Krivulka said.

That came as welcome news to Plattsburgh-Saranac Lake Building and Construction Trades Council President John Donoghue Jr., who said local trades people have done construction and maintenance work at the Rouses Point facility for 40 years.

The announcement that Wyeth was closing was a big hit to his members, as well as the Wyeth employees, he said.

“This is a very good windfall.”



EXPERIENCE COUNTS

Recently named Akrimax President Alan Rubino said it was the previous successes of Krivulka and Mazur that attracted him to the company.

Douglas credited the Akrimax team for their entrepreneurial spirit.

“These are guys who see possibilities.”

Krivulka and Akrimax Vice Chairman Leonard Mazur were the co-founders of Triax Pharmaceuticals in November 2004 and remain as president and chief operating officer, respectively, of that company. Triax, which Krivulka said was a “little more than $100 million company,” specializes in dermatology treatments that are neglected by the big pharmaceutical companies.

Krivulka and Mazur each have more than 30 years experience in the pharmaceutical business. This is Krivulka’s fourth startup, while Mazur has been involved in the formation of three pharmaceutical companies.

Douglas said that unlike other large employers that have left the region, Wyeth did what was right for its employees.

“We need to remind ourselves what an incredible friend Wyeth has been and continues to be.”



E-mail Dan Heath at:

dheath@pressrepublican.com

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