WASHINGTON -- The most troublesome terms for thebiotechnology industry have been lifted from the GeneralAgreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT).
The international agreement, which will probably be signedshortly, would have forced companies working with federalresearch dollars to develop new products to divulge theircorporate secrets to the GATT office. GATT, in turn, would havebeen required to provide other signatories with information onU.S. research subsidies.
To qualify for tariff-free trade, subsidies would have beenlimited to 25 percent for applied research and 50 percent forbasic research.
These requirements would have applied to all new technologiesand would have thwarted President Clinton's policy ofencouraging partnerships between government and industry.
But "they have rewritten the whole thing," a Capitol Hill sourcetold BioWorld. "Fundamental research is now 100 percent OKfor government to fund without having to worry aboutcountervailing duties I Applied research is now 75 percent OKto fund."
A new category, "competitive development," allows 50 percentgovernment funding. It includes "translation into practice ofplans, blueprints or designs, up to and including the firstprototype (which cannot be used)."
These provisions will be reconsidered in 18 months, afterwhich there will be an opportunity to make changes.
The old agreement had been opposed by the BiotechnologyIndustry Organization (BIO), acting National Institutes of HealthDirector Ruth Kirschstein, 21 legislators led by Sen. JeffBingaman, D-N.M., and various other agencies. -- David C.Holzman
(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.