Early Briefing: Explaining Biotech

*Geoffrey Allan has explained to Congress protein structures and how they work, as well as reviewed how drugs are absorbed into the body.

If lawmakers understand the difference between chemical and biologic drugs, Allan reasons, they'll be more invested in his cause: getting quick approval for generic versions of biotech drugs. Today the generics market for chemical drugs like aspirin is booming, but there is no way to get cheaper copies of pricey biologics, for complex life-threatening diseases like cancer, into patient hands.

Allan, who has worked in the drug industry for 28 years, has a lot at stake. As chief executive of Insmed -- a small Richmond biotech whose goal is to be the first U.S. company to develop a portfolio of biotech generics, or "biosimilars" -- his company's success rides on Congress overhauling the laws to permit competition that would result in lower biologic drug prices.

Insmed, a spinout from the University of Virginia, created a YouTube video to spread its message about the safety of and need for biosimilar drugs.

*Two government contractors designated as small, Alaska native-owned firms, including Goldbelt Raven of Chantilly, directed millions of dollars in fees to other companies owned by managers who were not Alaska natives and should not have received the payments, according to an audit report by the Office of Inspector General at the Small Business Administration.

The findings are part of an ongoing review by the inspector general's office of the status of Alaska native corporations, or ANCs, which are eligible to receive sole-source contracts of any size from federal agencies. Congress three decades ago permitted the creation of ANCs by Alaska natives as a means to settle land claims and to spur economic development.

The audit report recommended that the two companies -- APM, a construction management company from Yorba Linda, Calif., and Goldbelt Raven, an acquisition support, program management and technology services company -- be terminated from the agency's 8(a) small business set-aside program.

Linda Springer served as OPM director for three years. (Photo: Bill O'leary --The Washington Post)

*Linda Springer says good-bye today to the Office of Personnel Management. After three years as director of the agency, the accomplished cellist has decided to play a new tune as executive director of government and public sector advisory services for Ernst & Young. She recently met with the Federal Diary for an exit interview on several topics.

*Charles W. Anderson, chief executive of the United Way of the National Capital Area and one of Washington's most prominent nonprofit leaders, resigned abruptly Tuesday after struggling to restore fundraising prowess at the embattled organization. Anderson's last day is Friday, and next week he will become a consultant to United Way of America's national headquarters in Alexandria. In five years as head of the Washington region's affiliate, Anderson overhauled the management team and sought to restore faith in the organization, which was tarnished by financial scandals.

By Terri Rupar  |  August 13, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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