BioWorld International Correspondent

TEL AVIV, Israel - In a first-of-its-kind event, FDA Deputy Commissioner Lester Crawford appeared March 22 in Israel to coach Israeli biotech companies on how to bring their products through the U.S. regulatory process. Just two weeks ago, after he had accepted the invitation to address a group of Israeli companies by video conference, Crawford was appointed acting FDA commissioner.

Accompanying him was David Feigal, director of the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health, who headed the Division of Anti-Viral Drug Products for nearly 10 years. Also appearing was Norman Pressman, CEO and president of MonoGen Inc., of Vernon Hills, Ill.

The video conference was one session in a two-day, hands-on seminar organized by the Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute (IEI) and the Virginia-Israel Advisory Board (VIAB), directed by Ralph Robbins, from the office of the governor of Virginia.

Robbins told BioWorld International: "The goals of VIAB coordinate with those of IEI - to see Israeli companies marketing their products in the U.S. The state of Virginia offers 36 different types of incentives to lure biotech and life sciences [for] business. The office was the idea of Senator George Allen, who wanted to lure all of these biotech companies to Virginia, instead of Boston or New York."

Gary Gamerman, president of Seraphim Life Sciences Consulting LLC in Roanoke, Va., who helped produce the meeting, told BioWorld International, "We would like to see Israeli biotech come to the same commercial success that was attained by the high-tech sector."

Cheryl Valentine, principal in the Carilion Biomedical Institute, also in Roanoke, offered the meeting attendees a "soup to nuts" list of options. She told BioWorld International, "We are looking for high-potential biotechnological and medical technologies to invest in all stages of development" by using CBI's $55 million venture fund.

A panel of other speakers, including the newly appointed chief business officer of Can-Fite Biopharma Ltd., in Petach-Tikva, Israel, addressed the nearly 100 participants.

Haini Shlomo, a veteran patents and technical research director from Or Akiva, said that in his career in Israel, he had never seen such a gathering, which was especially welcome given the politically troubled times.