California Stem Cell Research Panel Opposes Bill Making it Help Patients

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 9, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Stem Cell Research Panel Opposes Bill Making it Help Patients

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 9
, 2008

Sacramento, CA ( — The California panel created by Proposition 71 was supposed to benefit patients across the state by allowing scientists access to funds for research for cures. However, the committee funding by the initiative is opposing a bill in the state legislature to make it do just that.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has emailed its supporters a dire-sounding letter saying its existence is threatened by legislative efforts to keep it accountable.

"We need you to take a few minutes to help save the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and embryonic stem cell research in California. This is under siege right now in the state legislature," the group claims.

CIRM opposes Senate Bill 1565, which would require it to include in its intellectual property standards a requirement that each grantee and licensee submit for CIRM’s approval a plan that will afford uninsured Californians access to any drug that is, in whole or in part, the result of research funded by the CIRM.

The plans are required to include a promise to sell drugs that result from CIRM funding and are purchased with public funds at a price that does not exceed any benchmark price in the California Discount Prescription Drug Program.

It also requires a state-sponsored study of the governing structure of the panel.

With the bill advancing through the Senate and two Assembly committees, the final step is a vote on the Assembly floor. CIRM is asking California voters to stop the accountability measure.

"We need you to act now and ask for a NO vote on SB 1565," the panel says.

Wesley J. Smith, the California-based attorney and author who is an expert on bioethics issues, says CIRM officials have essentially sold out patients and the California voters who supported the proposition.

"During the campaign for Proposition 71, proponents promised that Californians would reap a cornucopia of benefits from borrowing $3 billion over 10 years to pay researchers in private companies and their business partners in universities to conduct human cloning and embryonic stem cell research," he explained.

"Well the California Legislature is holding them to that, and now the CIRM is wailing and gnashing its teeth that the very existence of the CIRM is threatened," he added.

"What phonies!" Smith adds. "Did Californians express a "preference" for spending $270 million of their borrowed money for the most expensive buildings money could buy–as most of this year’s grants have done? Hardly."

"What is going on is forcing the CIRM to actually be sure that its grantees give back to the state’s poor–as the campaign promised it would," Smith concluded.

"Given the shoddy leadership of the CIRM, the governance structure needs revising. Moreover, the CIRM’s actions to date — and its opposition to the bill — shows that the entire enterprise is corporate welfare at its worst."

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