Thursday, March 30, 2006

Stem Cell Industry Resists Strings on CIRM Grants

The California stem cell agency received two distinct messages Wednesday at its first meeting on rules for intellectual property for business.

No blank check for biotech was one admonition (see "ownership") from a watchdog group. The other came from industry, which said don't expect us to come crawling to you for money.

Reporter Lee Romney of the Los Angeles Times covered Wednesday's hearing. Here are some excerpts:

"Representatives of private biotech companies made it clear to institute board members Wednesday that major companies with the ability to bring cures to market are unlikely to seek state money if too many strings are attached to those dollars.

"'I don't think you're sitting in a position where all these companies will come on their knees to visit you,'" Brad Margus, chief executive of Mountain View, Calif.-based Perlegen Sciences Inc., warned the institute's intellectual property subcommittee.

"'He said that only second-rate companies would be interested. 'You need to have first-draft picks, not companies who are desperate,' he said.

"Industry's key concerns, Genentech Executive Vice President Stephen Juelsgard told the committee, are that the state will dictate how much companies can charge for new treatments; maintain the right to patent technology, if companies fail to do so; and require companies to share developments they consider proprietary. Major companies 'simply wouldn't engage,' Juelsgard said. 'It's not a risk worth taking.'"
The Times story continued:
"Zach Hall, the institute's president, said he is confident a compromise can be found. 'There is a heightened sense that this is a public project. As part of that there is an expectation that there will be a very tangible return,' Hall said. 'Yet we know that if we are going to have therapies that are widely available … the private sector will have to be involved in a very fundamental way. The trick is to satisfy both of those needs. We don't expect that everybody will be happy."


The Times appears to be the only newspaper this morning with a story on Wednesday's meeting. Sphere: Related Content

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