California Stem Cell Research Conflict of Interest Bill Moves Forward

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 19, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Stem Cell Research Conflict of Interest Bill Moves Forward Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 19, 2005

Sacramento, CA ( — Legislation that would help solve some of the problems of conflicts of interests on the state’s new panel that with authorize awards for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research advanced in the state legislature Wednesday.

The bill, SCA13, sponsored by Sens. Deborah Ortiz, a Democrat, and George Runner, a Republican, would strengthen conflict of interest rules on any research authorized by Proposition 71. The measure received approval from a Senate election committee 5-0.

According to the bill, the stem cell panel would be required to follow standards issued by the National Institutes of Health.

Those rules prohibit employees from holding biotech or pharmaceutical stocks. The California measure would extend those requirements to the entire California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and its advisory groups.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will consider the bill Monday.

In order to become law, the measure must be approved on two-thirds votes from both the state House and Senate and be approved by California voters.

Thanks to lawsuits filed against the statewide committee charged with distributing billions in grants for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, donations for such research won’t be made until at least the fall.

Consumer groups and pro-life advocates associated with the campaign to defeat Proposition 71 filed lawsuits against the new panel. The result is that the cloning and embryonic research grants will be delayed because the sale of bonds to raise funds for grants has to be postponed.

The lawsuits filed by consumer groups People’s Advocate and National Tax Limitation Foundation, allege that the state is illegally funding the stem cell panel without being able to have oversight. The lawsuit also cites violations of conflict of interest and state open meetings laws.

The suit also points out that all but two members of the panel were appointed by top state officials, rather than elected or nominated by the public.

The stem cell panel has adopted conflict of interest rules to help stave off the concerns.

They require full disclosure, but do not require representatives of groups that lobby for disease research funds from voting on grants to such groups. Meanwhile, ten of the panel’s members are leading figures at biotech firms that will be competing for research funds.