Gore speech at biotech convention will be open

Posted May 4, 2010 at 9:54 a.m.

By Bruce Japsen
| Though a much-touted Chicago appearance today of former Presidents
George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will not be open to the public or the
press at the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s annual meeting, the group
has offered up former Vice President Al Gore for five minutes tomorrow.

BIO said the first “five minutes of the Vice President’s keynote address
will be open” to registered media. Gore’s keynote address is sponsored
by California-based biotech giant Amgen Inc. The fees being paid to Gore for his
appearance are not being disclosed, BIO said.

The annual meeting, being held this week at McCormick Place, is being attended by thousands of researchers, government officials and representatives from hundreds of biotech and pharmaceutical companies around the world.

The Bush-Clinton joint appearance had taken on more interest in February, after the pair abruptly cancelled a joint appearance at Radio City Music Hall. The two canceled that event because of a “violation of contract and a promoter who insisted on billing it as something it wasn’t,” a Clinton spokesman said after the cancellation.

New Jersey drug giant Johnson & Johnson is the sponsor for Clinton and Bush’s keynotes. The fees being paid to the two men are not being disclosed.

BIO has taken heat from the media and some of its member companies for closing the events.

“While we have opened the keynotes to a broader range of attendees on occasion during previous conventions, it has generally been BIO’s policy to only allow full registrants to attend the keynote events,” said BIO spokesman Jeff Joseph. “Since there are thousands of individuals who participate in the conference not as full registrants — for example, exhibit staff, presenters and media — we cannot make exceptions in a fair and equitable manner.”

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