WASHINGTON _ Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)President Carl Feldbaum chose Little Rock, Ark., President Clinton'spolitical home base, to announce Wednesday that BIO would take ahigh political profile in the 1996 presidential and congressionalelection.

Feldbaum made the announcement at a meeting of the ArkansasBiotechnology Organization, which drew more than 100 people fromthe state's 15 biotechnology firms, state government and medical andresearch facilities.

Feldbaum, who often has said he runs BIO like a political campaign,said in an interview with BioWorld Today that BIO would holdPresident Clinton and other presidential candidates accountable forpositions they take that are not in the best interest of thebiotechnology industry.

"We don't have the money to have a PAC or placefull-page newspaper ads but we do have 580 companies in over 300congressional districts," Feldbaum said. "That's an incrediblepolitical reach for such a small organization."

Feldbaum, who before joining BIO served as chief of staff to Sen.Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), now a Republican presidential candidate, saidhe will urge his members and state biotech organizations to be activein local and state politics "where their voices will be heard moreclearly than in the maelstrom of voices common to Washington."

"BIO was not around in the 1992 presidential debate when there wasconsiderable talk of technology and entrepreneurship. But we haveno plans to be silent in 1996," Feldbaum said.

"We will listen to what the candidates have to say about investmenttax credits, FDA reform and regulatory relief," he said. "We intend tohold them accountable for the positions they take."

When asked to comment on the Clinton administration, Feldbaumsaid "BIO's experience was mixed in 1994 during the debate onhealth care reform but it has been much more positive this year as theadministration came to support FDA reform.

"BIO is not a large organization but its clout may be critical in closecongressional votes." Feldbaum pointed to the administration's healthcare reform plan that cleared the House Ways and Means HealthSubcommittee in 1994 by the vote of 7 to 6. n

-- Michele L. Robinson Washington Editor

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