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San Diego is home to the third largest concentration of biotechnology companies in the world, an industry that can be either aided or hindered by federal policy and funding decisions.

But the world’s largest biotechnology organization — which has many San Diego-based members — isn’t endorsing a candidate for president, according to a story in the Boston Herald today.

Instead, biotech leaders will press the next president to allocate more money to the federal Food and Drug Administration to help speed up the drug-review process, said Jim Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, during a media briefing Tuesday on biotech-related legislation.

There’s no endorsement because, from the biotechnology industry’s viewpoint, there’s not much difference between Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and the Republican’s pick, Sen. John McCain, Greenwood said.

Both candidates support embryonic stem cell research, and support more funding for the FDA. Still, Greenwood said members of the organization want the next president to give the regulatory agency more money so it can speed up the review process for medicines now stuck in the pipeline, waiting for approval.

Many industry insiders, particularly drug industry executives, have complained that stringent FDA regulations on product safety are hampering the launch of new treatments and adversely affecting drug development efforts.

Greenwood told reporters that the best way to reduce health care costs is to allow drug makers to create and sell drugs that have the potential to cure diseases.

Most scientists and biotech executives I’ve talked politics with in San Diego have echoed Greenwood; both candidates appear to want to move from ideological to science-backed policy.

DARRYN BENNETT

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