By Steve Usdin
Contributing Editor

WASHINGTON - A second special panel of ad hoc advisors to the NIH last week managed to reach some agreement that CRADA policy should be reoriented away from "reasonable pricing" and toward "reasonable access" to drugs created with NIH involvement.

The panel members, representing consumer groups, patient advocates, industry representatives and NIH staff, also were able to agree that the scope of activities covered by such provisions should be limited.

Members of the panel did not, however, reach consensus on a definition of reasonable access, nor did they come up with clear recommendations for NIH Director Harold Varmus. The middle ground sought by the group also did not reflect more hardline positions taken by pricing advocates and opponents who spoke to the panel at the NIH forum last week.

Consumer groups

The panel members are acting consultants to the Advisory Committee to the Director of NIH (ACD). The forum was convened specifically to look into the reasonable pricing clause in model CRADA agreements. Unlike a prior forum in July, which also explored the pricing issue, the panel was designed to air the opinions of consumer and patient advocacy groups