California Stem Cell Research Panel Authorizes Royalties From Treatments

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 13, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Stem Cell Research Panel Authorizes Royalties From Treatments Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 13, 2006

Sacramento, CA ( — The committee that oversees the $3 billion in taxpayer funds that will be spent on embryonic stem cell research says the state of California will be entitled to 25 percent of the profits that result from any therapies it develops.

The board also set up ground rules to make sure scientists do not take advantage of women who donate their human eggs for research.

The committee, which was created after voters approved Proposition 71, was struggling with how to repay the state should the controversial research actually develop any treatments. Thus far, adult stem cells have yielded dozens of therapies while embryonic stem cell research has yet to help a single patient.

According to the Knight Ridder news service, some members of the committee didn’t want to share any revenue because they worried it would make researchers less interested in coming to California. They also worried it would negatively impact the state’s ability to sell tax-exempt bonds because the venture could be consider a for-profit investment.

The group eventually decided on 25 percent of anything over $500,000 profit that comes in.

"This was a compromise," said Ed Penhoet, the board’s vice chairman, told Knight Ridder. "There is probably nobody completely happy."

The new policy applies only to nonprofit groups and universities and the committee will draft separate guidelines for businesses that want some of its money.

The policy also says that and therapies must be priced at the prices set under the federal Medicare program to avoid arbitrarily inflating the costs.

The rules of egg donations are preliminary but they call for safeguards even more rigorous than the ones in place by the National Academies of Science. One regulation in making sure scientists pay any medical bills women incur from donating their eggs as the process can cause painful bleeding or infections.

Money from the committee has yet to be raised or go to scientists as expected because two lawsuits from pro-life and taxpayer groups have prevented the bonds for funding from being issued.