Four San Diego area biotechnology company CEOs and the headof California's Biomedical Industry Council conferred with keyadministration aides and legislators in separate meetings onTuesday, mainly to raise the issue of drug pricing.

"We were received extremely well," David Hale, chief executiveofficer of Gensia Pharmaceuticals Inc., told BioWorld.

The biotechnology company executives focused on the need toavoid price controls on drugs. Concerns about price controlshave devalued companies "40-50 percent in the last three tofour months, and it's also had a significant impact on newfinancing," Hale said.

Hale also pointed out that since biotechnology products are stillscarce, financing must come largely from equity markets.

FDA was also on the group's agenda. "We congratulated thecongressmen on the user fee legislation and encouraged theadministration not to try to use user fees to reduce the deficit,"Hale told BioWorld. "In addition, we talked about improving theefficiency with which FDA evaluates applications."

Their message was well-received by President Clinton'sassistant chief of staff, Mark Middleton, with Greg Simon, VicePresident Gore's domestic policy adviser, Hale told BioWorld.

The executives also met with Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., whoruns the Health and Environment Subcommittee of Energy andCommerce; Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark, D-Calif., chairman of theHealth Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee; stafffrom the office of Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif.; and mostnotably, Rep. John Dingle, D-Mich., the powerful head of theHouse Committee on Energy and Commerce, which controlshealth care issues.

"Chairman Dingle was not just listening, he was involved,interested and getting some follow-up information from theSan Diego Biomedical Council, and he understood theirconcerns," said Patrick Dorton, press secretary for Rep. LynnSchank, who represents the San Diego district.

Schank, who was elected last year, had masterminded thelobbying effort. "She met with us about a month or two ago,and we talked to her about some of the issues," Hale toldBioWorld. "She said it was important that the administrationand key people in Congress heard from companies."

"San Diego had the fourth-largest concentration ofbiotechnology research in the nation," Dorton said. "It's one ofour growth industries."

Schank is a member of Dingle's committee and "helpedconsiderably in making this happen," said Hale.

"(The administration) indicated that they might want to contactus about some of the issues related to pricing or related tobiotechnology as it was affected by health care reform," saidHale.

Joining Hale in Washington were Ken Widder of MolecularBiosystems Inc., William Rastetter of Idec PharmaceuticalsCorp., Duane and Theodore Roth of Alliance PharmaceuticalsInc., and Bernie Rhinerson, head of the Biomedical IndustryCouncil.

-- David C. Holzman Washington Editor

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