Sunday, January 06, 2008

About 300 companies appearing at S.F. biotech conference

About 300 companies appearing at S.F. biotech conference
Bernadette Tansey, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, January 6, 2008

A bio process technician works in a cell development room... A worker at South San Francico's Exelixis, which is searc...

Shoppers who deserted San Francisco's Union Square after the holiday will be replaced Monday by thousands of biotech investors, in town for biotech's biggest conference of the year at the Westin St. Francis Hotel.

About 300 companies will showcase their work at the JPMorgan Annual Healthcare Conference, including efforts to make a vaccine against cancer, antibodies to fend off Alzheimer's disease and drugs to help the obese lose weight.

The invitation-only event is in its 26th year, a much-expanded version of the pioneering conference organized by the boutique investment bank Hambrecht & Quist, which later was acquired by JPMorgan. The industry has burgeoned since then, but each year brings reminders of the precipitous risks of banking on biotech success.

In any year, many drug development projects that look like sure bets will fail to deliver on their promise. In 2007, drug regulators also took a tougher look at new medicines in the wake of congressional scrutiny after the widely prescribed painkiller Vioxx was withdrawn over safety concerns. And the two biggest biotech companies, Amgen of Thousand Oaks (Ventura County) and Genentech of South San Francisco, faced regulatory setbacks on some of their top-selling products. Biotech and pharmaceutical companies now are keeping a wary eye on the presidential election campaign, because proposals to expand health care coverage to the uninsured might increase pressure to drop drug prices.

to read the rest of the article check out the San Francisco Chronicle

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