BioWorld International Correspondent

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Peter Heinrich, CEO of Medigene, has taken over as the new president of the Emerging Biopharmaceutical Enterprises, a specialized group bringing together 34 European healthcare companies involved in bioscience technologies within the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations.

Heinrich replaces Elliot Goldstein, who resigned from British Biotech on Nov. 4. The full Emerging Biopharmaceuticals Enterprises (EBE) board now consists of Ernesto Bertarelli (CEO of Serono), as EBE Vice-President; Jean-Luc BĂ©lingard (CEO of Beaufour-Ipsen); Antoine Beret (CEO of Trophos); Ahmed Bouzidi (CEO of Sedac Therapeutics); and Carlo Incerti (CEO for Scientific Development of Genzyme Europe).

Hugo Schepens, the secretary general of EuropaBio, the European association for all bio-industries, is to take part as observer.

More Official Backing For Boosting EU Research

EU member states have agreed to consult more closely in developing national policies for research and development, to overcome the fragmentation that holds back research and innovation efforts in Europe. Research ministers committed themselves on Nov. 26 to more systematic coordination. And the European Parliament's committee on industry and research last week also issued strong backing for the plea made last month by European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin that EU member state governments increase research investment from the current 1.9 percent of gross domestic product to around 3 percent by 2010. At present, only Finland and Sweden reach this level.

Research Ministers Fluff Biotechnology Patent Progress

EU research ministers failed to reach agreement on the EU's proposed new fast-track patent scheme when they met in Brussels on Nov. 26. Ministers have repeatedly recognized "the vital importance" of the proposed new patent, and they did again at their meeting last week. But they have found it impossible to agree on how it should work, wrangling over questions of translation of applications, conflicts with national jurisdictions or the location of the agency to run the scheme. The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations noted after last week's meeting that "yet again" the opportunity had been missed to put in place a new system that "would be particularly helpful for young small and medium-sized biotech companies."

Ministers did, however, agree that beginning in 2003 they would demand an annual report on how far member states had progressed with implementing the EU's existing directive created specifically for biotechnology patents - the 1998 directive on protecting innovations derived from biotechnology. At present, this directive has not been implemented in nine of the 15 EU member states.