Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Stronger CIRM Standards Attract Little Notice

The California stem cell agency is moving forward with stronger conflict of interest standards in the wake of legislation that would have forced a ballot fight over even tougher standards.

A new legislative committee of the agency approved the new rules Monday night. And in an unusual move, the agency issued a midnight-hour press release announcing the action. The full Oversight Committee will consider the rules July 12 and is likely to approve a version of them.

The legislative committee's action has attracted little media notice, probably because it appeared to be a foregone conclusion. But the timing also discouraged coverage: an evening meeting that ran up against newspaper deadlines.

The standards approved by the committee had an interesting twist. To be changed, they would require a supermajority vote – 70 percent – of the Oversight Committee. That is the same vote requirement for a change of Proposition 71 itself by the legislature three years after passage – an irritating issue for some legislators.

According to CIRM's press release, the proposed standards would:

Require "divestment by ICOC members of financial investments in any business entity with more than 5% of its annual budget in stem cell therapies and in any business organization receiving a grant"

Broaden "conflict of interest provisions for working group members"

Provide "earlier public availability of full disclosure of working group funding recommendations"

Require "comprehensive reports to the State Legislature summarizing grant awards and recipients"

Ensure "increased public access to meetings of the Grants Working Group, the Standards Working Group and the Facilities Working group"

Provide "increased access to working group records"

The agency's press release also contained the following:

"'We are always striving to enhance our policies, and remain grateful for the support of Senators Perata, Ortiz, Speier, and Dunn,' said ICOC Chair Robert Klein. 'It is critical to public confidence in the CIRM that there be a clear understanding: we are building the finest standards for medicine, ethics, and competitive peer review in every aspect of the stem cell program. Our hope is that our collaboration with the public and the Legislature will create a model to serve as the standard for stem cell research in the nation.'

"Zach Hall, Ph.D, the Interim President of the CIRM, said a number of the standards that the subcommittee will recommend to the ICOC on July 12th in Irvine surpass the stringency of the National Institutes of Health and University of California standards." Sphere: Related Content

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  1. Anonymous6:38 PM

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