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Executive Summary

AHA ROUNDTABLE'S FOUNDING MEMBERS ARE SEVEN DRUG COMPANIES: Ciba-Geigy, Bristol-Myers, Sandoz, Squibb, Winthrop Pharmaceuticals, Wyeth-Ayerst and Genentech. Boehringer Ingelheim is also on the American Heart Association Pharmaceutical Roundtable as a regular member. Squibb Vice Chairman Charles Sanders, MD, has been named to chair the roundtable. The AHA Pharmaceutical Roundtable was formed last fall. The group's purpose is to sponsor and fund basic biomedical research conducted by independent researchers. The research will involve investigations of the causes, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke. Each industry founding member is committed to contribute $ 300,000 each year for a five year period to the roundtable. Regular members agree to provide funding of $ 200,000 a year for five years. In a May 3 release, the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division announced that it had reviewed AHA's proposal for formation of the roundtable, and concluded that it would not challenge the group under the antitrust laws since the roundtable "does not appear to affect competition adversely." Justice had earlier informed the association that establishment of the roundtable, as proposed, would not present antitrust problems. The decision is based on assurances from the association that "the research is to be exclusively of a basic, as opposed to applied, nature" and "the research will not be oriented in any way toward the improvement of commercial products," an April 28 letter said. The roundtable's structure and functions are outlined in the letter. The antitrust division said that membership is open to all drug companies and that there is no limit to the number of members. AHA members are also members of the roundtable. Member contributions will go toward funding the basic biomedical research projects, which will be "selected by vote of the [roundtable] members from a list of projects that have been previously reviewed and approved by AHA's standing volunteer peer review committees and the AHA Board of Directors." Each industry member has the opportunity to select and fund through the group particular reviewed and approved projects in addition to those picked by the roundtable as a whole, the letter adds. The Justice Department stressed that industry members "will have no role in initiating or designating research projects to be reviewed" by AHA, and that the companies will not be involved in projects, "nor will they be entitled, either collectively or individually, to any rights to patents or patentable interests resulting from research," the letter states. The roundtable will not support research projects already receiving funding from other sources or those that duplicate other projects. AHA medical advisors to the roundtable are: Howard Morgan, MD, Weis Center for Research, Danville, Penn.; Thomas Ryan, MD, Chief, Section of Cardiology, University Hospital Boston; Kenneth Shine, MD, Dean of UCLA's School of Medicine, Center for Health Sciences, Los Angeles; Rodman Starke, MD, Senior VP to AHA's Office of Scientific Affairs; James Willerson, MD, Cardiology Division, University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School, Dallas.

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