WASHINGTON _ Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) a close friend ofHouse Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Chairman of the HouseCommerce Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee that isholding hearings on FDA reform, predicted Tuesday that a bill won'tbe ready for President Clinton's signature until late 1996.

Barton told a closed meeting of the Health Industry ManufacturersAssociation's board of directors, who held a fly-in for their membersto lobby for FDA reform legislation, that the legislative timeline willbe at least 18 months long.

A Barton aide, Craig Murphy was quick to point out that the timelinecould shorten dramatically if "the Speaker moves the legislation tothe fast track."

Carl Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology IndustryOrganization, who on Wednesday raised the political stakes for hisorganization in the upcoming presidential and congressionalelections, said he would "put our state and local associations into thefray immediately to raise the sense of urgency surrounding thislegislation."

"For some biotech companies, FDA reform is a matter ofconvenience but for smaller companies, it's a matter of survival," hetold BioWorld Today. _ Michele L. Robinson

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.