Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stem Cell Snippets: McGee, Lansing, Prinz

Pricing Stem Cell Cures – The California stem cell agency is still wrestling with anticipated prices of stem cell therapies. Not directly, mind you. It comes under the topic of intellectual property. Glenn McGee, director of the Alden March Bioethics Institute, wrote recently about a drug pricing issue that could resonate in the future – if not currently -- with CIRM. The issue involves Merck and its cervical cancer drug, Gardasil, which he said is priced out of the reach of millions of women. McGee cited a report that Merck has spent $48 million in the last 10 years on lobbying. He wrote:
"If the company can afford to spend huge amounts convincing legislators the vaccine is something every woman deserves, it can afford to take its own advice, and reduce the price."
Variations of McGee's argument are certain to surface in the future involving stem cell cures. Plus they will be freighted with heated rhetoric about how those cures owe their very existence to funds provided by California taxpayers. Something for the good burghers on CIRM Oversight Committee to consider.

Another Presidential SearchSherry Lansing, a member of the Oversight Committee for the California stem cell agency, has added more to her plate. She will serve as vice chair of the search committee to find a new president for the University of California. As a CIRM director, she is already involved in the search for a new president for CIRM in addition to her other many philanthropic activities. Incidentally, the current UC president earns $405,000 annually, which is apparently not enough to attract a CIRM president. However, the UC position has other benefits, but may or may not involve less aggravation than the CIRM post.

Prisons vs. Stem Cell Research -- California attorney Kristie Prinz wants to know. Writing on her California Biotech Law Blog, she raises a fundamental question about the $3 billion California stem cell agency,
"One cannot help but wonder if the money couldn't have been better spent elsewhere, even if you are a supporter of the biotech industry and of the concept of the research generally. Our schools, health care, keeping drugs off the street, illegal immigration, crime, overcrowded prisons, and terrorism are just some of the many issues facing this state that could have also been better funded with the same money. Did we as taxpayers make a good decision when we voted to use the funds instead on stem cell research? It's a thought-provoking question that all Californians should consider."
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