WASHINGTON -- Health and Human Services Secretary DonnaShalala on Monday named 18 members of the expert panel shehas charged with expediting the search for new therapies forAIDS and HIV. Assistant Secretary for Public Health Philip Leewill run the panel.

The roster includes G. Kirk Raab, chairman of the board ofdirectors of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) andpresident and chief executive of Genentech Inc., and DanielHoth, vice president of Cell Genesys, as well as medicalresearchers, pharmaceutical industry representatives,government agency heads and people with AIDS.

"Both Raab and Hoth are men who have dedicated their lives tobringing the power of biotechnology to bear against thisenemy," BIO President Carl Feldbaum told BioWorld. "I'mcertain they will make important contributions to the AIDSpanel."

"The industry representatives are people that are highlyregarded, that have broad experience, and I think they willserve well toward drug development issues," G'Dali Braverman,an activist with Act-Up Golden Gate who testifies at mostmeetings of the National Institute's of Health's RecombinantDNA Advisory Committee, told BioWorld.

"The question becomes how well can they identify gaps inresearch and in (treatment of) specific diseases associated withHIV and target potential compounds for those areas,"Braverman said.

An additional issue is the panel's ability to affect thepharmaceutical collaborative, a group of 18 companies workingtogether on AIDS drug development. That group, Bravermansaid, is interested in later phases of drug development, but "theeffort should be screening at the preclinical level forpharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of compounds, andissues such as differences in metabolism and toxicities based onrace and gender."

Moreover, to be effective, the committee must be able toinfluence other committees, such as the AIDS Clinical DrugDevelopment Committee, which grades new drugs after clinicaltrials but prior to FDA approval, and FDA's Antiviral AdvisoryCommittee, said Braverman.

Also named to the panel were David Ho, director of the AaronDiamond AIDS Research Center; Deborah Cotton, professor ofmedicine at Harvard Medical School; Stephen Carter, senior vicepresident of research at Bristol-Myers Squibb; Robert Schooley,an AIDS researcher at the University of Colorado; EdwardScolnick, president of Merck Research Laboratories; HaroldVarmus, director of the NIH; Flossie Wong-Staal, professor ofmedicine and biology at the University of California, San Diego;David Kessler, commissioner of the FDA; Mindy Fullilove,research psychiatrist at the HIV Center at New York StatePsychiatric Institute; Arthur Ammann, director of the ArielProject of the Pediatric AIDS Foundation; Theresa McGovern,director of the HIV Law Project; Charles Nelson, laboratorytechnician at the Morehouse School of Medicine; Moises Agost,research and treatment advocacy manager for the NationalMinority AIDS Council; and Ben Cheng, information andadvocacy associate for Project Inform. -- David C. Holzman

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