WASHINGTON -- Although Vice President Al Gore and hisdomestic policy adviser and biotechnology point man, GregSimon, were conspicuously absent from Monday'sBiotechnology Summit here, John GibbonsU keynote addresssuggested that the White House is solidly behind the industry.

Gibbons, head of the White House's Office of Science andTechnology Policy (OSTP), implied that health-care reformwould be impossible without biotechnology to prevent and curedisease, as well as provide early diagnoses. But he cited aninherent conflict between encouraging research and controllingcosts.

RI am aware that one of the most troubling aspects (of health-care reform) is the provision to deal with breakthrough drugs,"said Gibbons. But any thorough analysis of breakthrough drugprices would include outcomes -- comparison of costs andpatient benefits from the new technology vs. old treatments.

As for the pricing clauses in creative research and developmentagreements (CRADAs), Rit is an issue within the administration;it is not a closed book by any means,S he said.

Gibbons also acknowledged that for companies, second andthird rounds of financing are where the difficulties lie, Rtobridge the gap to market and profitable products." Theadministration has taken steps to improve the situation, hesaid, alluding to last summerUs budget, which featured taxincentives for R&D and targeted capital gains reduction as wellas deficit reduction.

The administration also is taking new action to promotescientific and technological progress. Its goals includeRreaffirming the commitment to basic science, improving thecontribution of federally sponsored science and innovation toeconomic growth through closer working partnerships, andthird, doing a better job of coordinating science andtechnological investments across the federal government,S saidGibbons.

To that end, the president in November established theNational Science and Technology Council at the Cabinet level. Abiotechnology subcommittee co-chaired by NIH Director HaroldVarmus, National Science Foundation Director Neil Lane andM.R.C. Greenwood of the OSTP would coordinate biotechnologyresearch among federal departments and agencies and developstrategies for the various fields of biotechnology, includingagricultural, environmental, manufacturing and marinebiotechnology.

Next week the OSTP will sponsor a meeting on scienceinformation and views on the national investment infundamental science.

The summit was sponsored by the International Federation forthe Advancement of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology andGenetic Engineering News.

-- David Holzman Washington Editor

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