A top adviser to Switzerland's drug-regulatory agency who received consulting fees from Johnson & Johnson's subsidiary there has been cleared of any wrongdoing by Swiss authorities, the Swiss embassy said yesterday.

University of Bern pharmacologist and drug-testing expert Rudolf Preisig was exonerated by the Bern public prosecutor and the Swiss attorney general after an 8 1/2-month criminal investigation, embassy press attache Paul Widmer confirmed.

Under an annual consulting arrangement with Cilag AG, the subsidiary, Preisig received about $25,000 a year while he also was president of the College of Experts of the Intercantonal Office for the Control of Medicaments.

The college reviews applications to market new drugs and makes recommendations to the IOCM, which decides whether to approve marketing.

The arrangement was disclosed last year by former Cilag marketing executive Richard D'Agostino in a wrongful-discharge lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and two senior executives of the parent company.

D'Agostino alleged in the suit, which is pending in a New Jersey court, that he was fired 3 1/2 months after going to work for Cilag because he objected to the payments to Preisig as unethical and illegal.

Preisig told The Washington Post last December that Cilag had retained him "on and off" for 20 years, but said his involvement at the college was being reviewed.

He and Johnson & Johnson denied any improprieties, and the company emphasized that the kind of arrangement it had with him is customary and proper in Switzerland.

The Swiss law-enforcement officials said their investigation led them to conclude that Cilag's fees to Preisig were legitimate and that he had never participated in decisions on whether to approve Cilag drugs for marketing.

The drug-regulatory agency has tightened its rules for advisers who consult with pharmaceutical firms. But it rejected an outright ban because of the country's shortage of drug experts