BIOTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY ORGANIZATION (BIO) PRESIDENT FELDBAUM IS ATTORNEY WITH EXPERIENCE ON HILL (WITH SEN. SPECTER) AND IN CARTER & FORD ADMINISTRATIONS
The Industrial Biotechnology Association and Association of Biotechnology Companies are turning to Sen. Specter's (R-Pa.) chief of staff Carl Feldbaum to develop a unified trade association and Washington representation for the biotechnology industry. The new trade association, to be called the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), officially will start up on July 1. The associations are emphasizing Feldbaum's management experience as well as his Capitol Hill/political connections. For five years, Feldbaum, 49, has presided over Specter's "50-person staff in Washington and in seven state offices." IBA Chairman Stephen Duzan (Immunex) pointed out that Feldbaum also has experience in the private sector. "He is also an entrepreneur in his own right," Duzan told a Feb. 3 press conference. Feldbaum "started his own business and later... merged that business into a larger one and worked for that company as a vice president for a period of time," Duzan noted. The Immunex chairman and ABC Chairman Thomas Wiggans (Cyto Therapeutics) were part of a six-member search committee. A Feb. 3 press release announcing the appointment notes that as a top aide to Specter, Feldbaum "has advised the senator on business, defense and foreign affairs, education, environmental and health care issues." Among Specter's committee assignments is a position on the Senate Special Committee on Aging, the recent forum for Sen. Pryor's (D-Ark.) criticisms of pharmaceutical pricing. With Specter starting a new six-year term, BIO through Feldbaum should have a conduit to that committee. Pryor has begun to assert that the pricing of new therapies is as important an issue as the high-visibility issue of year-to-year price increases. The questions of introductory pricing and restraints on prices of products supported by government research dollars are crucial issues to the new BIO association. Specter voted for the Pryor S 2000 price controls in March last year ("The Pink Sheet" March 16, 1992, p. 3). In a Jan. 8 summary of its policy positions for the new Clinton Administration, IBA and ABC stated that "we are deeply concerned that discussion of price controls on pharmaceuticals will discourage investment in the biotechnology industry, which is developing breakthrough therapies for previously untreatable diseases." The biotech companies have attempted to disassociate the situation of the start-up venture from the established pharmaceutical businesses. The Jan. 8 paper contends that "while large pharmaceutical companies can finance new product development through revenues from existing products, emerging biotechnology companies must rely on investment capital to fund R&D." Any shift towards a public utilities approach to regulating drug costs, IBA/ABC argued, would remove the stimulus for the "investment necessary to maintain our international competitiveness." The biotech trade associations are also continuing their push for a process patent amendment (see related T&G this issue). Feldbaum was selected for the top association position on Jan. 28. His first day on the new job is Feb. 8. That gives him one week of acclimation before the IBA annual meeting in Naples, Fla. from Feb. 17-19. The IBA/ABC search committee apparently had set the annual meeting as a target deadline for selecting a president. Overall, the search for the president took almost three months. The association began the search process with the Russell Reynolds Associates headhunting firm in October last year. Individuals familiar with the search process say that Feldbaum was an early candidate for the position but took his name out of the running for a period during December before expressing renewed interest at the beginning of the new year. Feldbaum told an introductory meeting with the press on Feb. 3 that he actively sought the position because of the attraction of the "wide array of biologically derived products to address some of our most intractable diseases." Feldbaum also professed excitement at the broad range of different types of companies and research organizations that will be combined under the new BIO organization. Relating his own experience starting a corporation in 1980 "with a telephone and a typewriter," Feldbaum said that he has empathy for "just how strung out" the entrepreneurs of a small business can get. While Feldbaum's recent position has been with the minority on Capitol Hill, he also worked in the last Democratic administration as an assistant to the Secretary of Energy under the Carter Administration. An attorney by training (BA, Princeton '66; JD, University of Pennsylvania '69), he also served as an inspector general for defense intelligence in both the Ford and Carter Administrations. Feldbaum's background with the intelligence community in Washington extends to a position with the Special Watergate Prosecutor. A background paper on Feldbaum says that during his term with the special prosecutor he "was responsible for investigating allegations against major elements of the U.S. intelligence community."
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