WASHINGTON - In its efforts to avoid ceilings on orphan drug revenues, the biotech industry may be preparing to offer significant concessions to lawmakers who may not be able to pass a sales cap in the first place, according to a pharmaceutical lobbyist who has been handicapping the issue.

Lynda Nersesian,deputy vice president of government relations at the Pharmaceutical Manufacturer's Association, said members of Congress would be attracted by the "tough" provisions of legislation under consideration by the boards of directors of the Industrial Biotechnology Association and the Association of Biotechnology Companies.

The IBA/ABC "compromise" orphan drug bill would reduce orphan protection in order to avoid ceilings on orphan revenues, which had been proposed in the last Congress.

The IBA/ABC proposal, disclosed last week in BioCentury, would reduce orphan drug exclusivity to five years from seven and allow the FDA to terminate market protection if the patient population grew to more than 200,000.

Decision upcoming

The IBA/ABC boards probably