Washington -- Milk from cows receiving growth hormone maynot hurt drinkers, but it could make small dairy farmerseconomically sick, according to a congressional report to beissued Friday.

"Recombinant bovine somatotropin (BST) has no knownadverse health effects on the cows receiving BST supplementsor on humans drinking or consuming milk products from thesecows," said the report from the Office of TechnologyAssessment (OTA). However, the agency added that "a majorcontroversy concerning BST is that it will force many dairyfarms out of the industry, especially in traditional milk-producing regions."

These areas include the Upper Midwest, Corn Belt andNortheast, where the dairy industry "is in relative stagnationand even decline," and "there is pressure on traditional farmsto grow or exit the industry," according to the report.

BST alone won't force traditional farms out of existence, thereport said, but it will accelerate a trend toward fewer totalcows and larger farms.


Two biotech companies reported receiving orphan drug statusfor new products this week from the Food and DrugAdministration.

Alpha 1 Biomedicals Inc. of Washington, D.C., said that itsThymosin alpha 1 has been given orphan status for treatmentof chronic active hepatitis B. The disease affects 30,000 to40,000 Americans annually. The drug, a synthetic version of anatural hormone, is in Phase III clinical trials.

ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Costa Mesa, Calif., received orphanstatus for an injectable form of its anti-viral drug ribavirinwhen used for treatment of hemorrhagic fever with renalsyndrome. The disease is extremely rare in the United States,but is common in many Third World countries.

Ribavirin is an analog of guanosine, one of the four componentsof DNA. ICN sells various forms of ribavirin under the nameVirazole in the United States and elsewhere to treat a numberof viral infections. ICN plans to file a new drug application withthe FDA for the injectable form of the drug.


MedImmune Inc. on Wednesday completed its initial publicoffering of 2.5 million shares of stock priced at $9.25. TheGaithersburg, Md.-based company raised $23.1 million.MedImmune has 14.6 million shares of common stockoutstanding. Underwriters Morgan Stanley & Co. and SmithBarney, Harris Upham & Co. have an option to buy 375,000additional shares to cover overallotments. MedImmune(NASDAQ:MEDI) is developing humanized monoclonalantibodies to develop immunities to diseases such as AIDS. Thestock closed at $11.50 on Wednesday.

CETUS ADDS BOARD MEMBERSCetus Corp. of Emeryville, Calif., has added two members to itsboard: corporate secretary Dr. Robert S. Janicki and Julian N.Stern, who is a partner and former chairman of the law firmHeller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe.

-- Kris Herbst BioWorld Washington Bureau

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