Thursday, April 21, 2005

Ho-Hum. Stem Cell Measures Approved

California legislative action on measures to tighten oversight of the state's stem agency attracted little interest in the media today.

Reporter Laura Kurtzman of the San Jose Mercury News appeared to be the only reporter who attended Thursday's meeting of the Senate Health Committee and wrote a story on the legislation, which was approved 10-0.

The Associated Press filed a story, but did not actually attend the session. Instead it relied on a statement from the office of the Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, chair of the committee.

It is not uncommon for news outlets to write stories on such a basis when they deem the subjects not to be compelling. In this case, passage of the measure seemed assured since it was co-authored by Ortiz and the Republican vice-chair of the committee, George Runner of Antelope Valley.

Kurtzman fleshed out her story with additional reporting. She wrote,“The proposal would require the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which was created by Proposition 71, to abide by National Institutes of Health standards that were recently revised to bar employees from holding biotech or pharmaceutical stocks.”

“While refusing formally to take a position, representatives of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine said in interviews after the hearing that the rules were too restrictive. The head of the National Institutes of Health's human stem-cell program recently cited the (NIH) rules in announcing his retirement.”

Kurtzman quoted Ortiz as saying, “There is a higher level of accountability. This is a hybrid. This is a new model. In the end, it is the taxpayers who either benefit or lose in that equation.''

The AP story appeared on the web sites of the San Diego Union Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and The Sacramento Bee, but not on the Los Angeles Times. Here is a link to the AP story and a link to the press releases on the two measures, which now move to the appropriations committee.

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