The chiefs of Association of Biotechnology Companies (ABC) andthe Industrial Biotechnology Association (IBA) announcedFriday that the two trade groups have agreed, in principle, tomerge. The new group will be called the BiotechnologyIndustry Organization (BIO).

The action is subject to ratification by the membership of bothassociations at their respective annual meetings -- February forIBA and April for ABC.

"I do expect it to be ratified by a landslide," said a sourceaffiliated with ABC, who earlier had raised questions about themerger.

ABC President Thomas G. Wiggans, chief operating officer ofCytoTherapeutics Inc., said he expects the additionalpaperwork necessary for the merger to be completed by theend of June.

One of the biggest benefits of the merger will be a unified voicein Washington, said Wiggans. Last Friday, the industry tried outits new voice in a joint letter to President-elect Clinton fromWiggans and IBA Chairman Stephen Duzan, chairman and chiefexecutive officer of Immunex Corp. (see sidebar).

Another benefit is that the annual ABC meeting will becomethe annual biotechnology meeting, and the attendance -- 800last year -- should jump to "well over 1,000" this year,including virtually the entire industry, said Wiggans.

This year's meeting in April will include FDA officials andbankers, and will feature presentations on businessdevelopments and scientific developments, Wiggans said.

Some details, including the new organization's bylaws, muststill be wrapped up, said Mitchel Sayare, chairman and chiefexecutive officer of ImmunoGen Inc. and a board member ofABC. About 20 percent of the bylaws are not ready forpresentation to members, and will be hammered out at a jointmeeting of the bylaws committees on Feb. 17.

BIO's board of directors will have 33 members, one-third frombig companies and one third from emerging companies. "Themerged organization will ably represent each constituency,ranging from multinational heath care companies down to one-to two-person emerging biotech companies," said Sayare.

-- David C. Holzman Special to BioWorld

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