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Amneal aims to hire N.J.’s Big Pharma layoffs

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As New Jersey's brand-name drug suppliers continue to downsize with increasing generic drug competition from expiring patents and a strict focus on costs, Bridgewater-based generic pharmaceutical supplier Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC today announced it plans to hire some of those laid-off workers and invest more money in biotechnology manufacturing.

"The downsizing in Big Pharma in New Jersey has led to more people being out there who are qualified for (research and development) and manufacturing jobs like ours," a company spokeswoman said. "When the existing work force is already trained in specialized areas like R&D and manufacturing, it makes it easier for us to expand."

According to Amneal President Chirag Patel, as part of its $120 million national capital expenditure plan through 2014, the company will invest $40 million to increase its generics discovery, development and manufacturing operations at its four New Jersey facilities in Piscataway, Branchburg, Paterson and East Hanover. While Amneal's New Jersey branches currently employ 256 people, the spokeswoman said the firm is looking to fill 150 new R&D and manufacturing positions, mostly at its Piscataway plant, which the company acquired from the former Alpharma Pharmaceuticals in 2010.

While Amneal has steadily increased investment and hiring across its six R&D, manufacturing and distribution facilities in New Jersey, New York and Kentucky for the last five years, the spokeswoman said the company's latest expansion plan is its most significant to date.

"Right now, we're the seventh-largest generics firm, with somewhere around $400 (million) to $450 million in sales, but our longer term goal is to be a top five U.S. generics company and reach $1 billion in sales," the spokeswoman said. "Prior to branded drugs coming off patent, we've been applying for FDA approval to produce them as generics, because it takes a year — sometimes more — before we're granted approval. Once those applications are done, we're expecting to see a big increase in revenues."

In a statement, Patel said New Jersey is "important to Amneal's success," since the company collaborates on research with pharmacy programs at Rutgers University and the state's other institutions of higher education.

"It's also important for our business to have easy access to airports and ocean ports to distribute our products," Patel said in the statement. "New Jersey has both."

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