NIH Director Bernadine Healy's hastily assembled "blue-ribbonpanel" is scheduled to begin discussions this Thursday on"lobbyist-directed research" in general and the congressionalappropriation of funds to back clinical trials on one AIDSvaccine candidate in particular.

Healy termed Congress' Oct. 6 appropriation of $20 million tothe Department of Defense for this vaccine "a very dangerousprecedent for the entire biomedical research enterprise."

Apparently, the funding success was due to intense lobbyingefforts by former Louisiana Sen. Russell Long, backed by thevaccine's maker, MicroGeneSys Inc. of Meriden, Conn.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy andInfectious Diseases, will head the panel. Fauci himself has beensubjected to Long's intense lobbying campaign, which got intofull swing in April 1991. It was "a concerted effort byMicroGeneSys to bring gp160 (the candidate vaccine, tradenamed VaxSyn) to the attention of those in Congress who couldprovide funds," according to Jon Cohen's report, whichappeared in Friday's Science.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt

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