Saturday, December 16, 2006

'Fair Cures,' Lab Construction and CIRM

The Greenlining Institute, a longtime activist community group in California, has come up with a series of recommendations on stem cell research in California, including suggestions that biotech companies receiving state grants set goals for directing some of the money to minority and women-owned businesses.

The proposals stem from a Greenlining conference earlier this year on stem cell issues. They have been compiled in a report, called "Fair Cures," prepared by Joe Araya Tayag, health program manager for Greenlining. The group has been around for decades and has litigated and agitated successfully on a wide range of issues involving minorities. The organization's name stems from its position opposed to the practice of redlining.

Currently CIRM is preparing a proposal to fund $47.5 million million in lab facilities. The grants are expected to be awarded in June. The agency has generally indicated support for diversity efforts, but it is not clear how that might be reflected in its grants for labs.

Here are excerpts from Greenlining report. It can be found on the website from the conference, which includes video of the presentations:

"...(R)esearchers and firms that obtain patents on health care technology, such as stem cell advancements, have virtually no incentive or authorization to ensure fair access to innovations in medical treatment. Without an adjustment in patent law, the cost of patent licenses in the stem cell industry will impact costs of any potential products. Because researchers have to recoup the costs of licenses, prices are driven up, with the greatest burden ultimately falling on disadvantaged communities of color. The CIRM currently includes provisions for affordability in their intellectual property policies that may be used as models for future state-funded research programs."

"Conference participants also voiced their concerns over how the tens of thousands of employment opportunities to be created with the state’s investment into stem cell research will be distributed fairly among all Californians. These jobs take the form of research positions, CIRM career staff, and supplier contracts. In his presentation, Joe Tayag from the Greenlining Institute showed that there were over 60 different types of supplier services used by a large biotech company. These jobs range from advertising, to catering, to furniture manufacturing. Audience members such as Ernie Baker from the Covenant on Health in San Francisco stressed that these jobs may empower economically underserved communities if employment rates reflect the diversity of the state. Conference participants agreed that these jobs need to be recognized as essential to stem cell research and should be accounted for in any discussion of the fair implementation of stem cell research." Sphere: Related Content

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