Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Wisconsin to CIRM: Cough Up Some Cash

The following is coming live from The Stem Cell Meeting today in San Francisco, sponsored by Burrill and Co.

Wisconsin wants a piece of the California stem cell pie.

That's because the California stem cell agency has decided to give its own state 25 percent royalties on any inventions created with CIRM-funded embryonic stem cell research.

Wisconsin is involved because the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has two patents that broadly cover the preparation of embryonic stem cells. Beth Donley, general counsel, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, said that if CIRM stipulates 25 percent royalties for California that requirement amounts to commercialization. And that means WARF wants a payment from California.

How much would that amount to? Speaking during a panel session at The Stem Cell Meeting in San Francisco today, Donley said that licenses start at fairly low rates and mentioned a bottom figure of $75,000. In February of 2005, Peter Balbus, managing director at Pragmaxis LLC, of Glen Ellyn, Ill., estimated that Wisconsin could receive $200 million for $4 billion in stem cell product revenues. However, it is not clear whether that estimate is still valid.

Donley told industry representatives at the conference, sponsored by Burrill & Co., that she had spoken with CIRM officials on three occasions. The last time was on Monday when she told Robert Klein, California stem cell chairman, that the 25 percent royalty provision meant that CIRM was "trading on (Wisconsin) technology to build a (commercial) program." She said CIRM could provide the royalty in various ways. One would be to provide a stream of revenue from whatever California receives. Another would be to build it into grant arrangements with the nonprofit institutions.

Todd Lorenz, chair, Life Sciences and Health Care, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, another member of the panel, said Donley's statement raised the issue of "suffocation of product." The term refers to excessive layers of royalties of as much of 25 to 30 percent that stifle commercialization of therapies. Donley said Wisconsin was entitled to receive payments for use of its products and that the funds would go for research and education.

1 comment:

  1. Of the "vitality" of the WARF threat against CIRM, see