Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Stem Cell Agenda of a State Senator

What does Deborah want? It is a question that floats around in the minds of some folks at California's stem cell agency.

Deborah is Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, chair of the state Senate Health Committee and the legislative mover-and-shaker on stem cell issues. She is carrying a proposed constitutional amendment that would tighten oversight of CIRM and guarantee benefits to California from CIRM-funded research. She also plans to re-introduce a bill designed to protect women who donate their eggs for stem cell research.

She laid out her agenda clearly in a speech Monday that received no media attention. But her comments go to the heart of stem cell work in California. The principles behind them – accountability, transparency and disclosure -- additionally go to the heart of stem cell work anywhere in the world. Here in California, it is important to note that she says it is not necessary to make constitutional changes in CIRM; "binding regulations" would suffice.

In her speech she said Prop. 71 is "light" in the following areas:
"--meaningful conflict of interest standards for the appointees who review and make recommendations for funding,

"--open meeting and public records requirements to ensure that the public has information about projects that are recommended and not recommended for funding;

"--workable provisions to ensure that taxpayers get a return on their investment in stem cell research, consistent with the promises made to voters.

"--stringent standards to protect women who may consider donating eggs for stem cell research."
Her legislation would:
"--require members of the Prop. 71 working groups, without exceptions, to disclose their interests in research institutions, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical companies involved with stem cell research;

"--require meetings and deliberations of the Prop. 71 governing body and working groups to be conducted in public, with narrow exceptions for scientific peer review discussions, medical privacy, discussion of proprietary or scientific prepublication information, and personnel matters.

"--require Prop. 71 grantees to agree to share royalties on successful inventions with the state and to require licensees to sell any resulting products or treatments to the state at the best price they provide it to any purchaser.

"--require women considering donating their eggs for research to provide written informed consent and prohibit compensation of egg donors beyond the direct expenses entailed in undergoing egg extraction."

Ortiz said she believed the problems were "fixable" and hopes to engage in further dialogue with CIRM on solutions. Sphere: Related Content

No comments:

Post a Comment