Wednesday, June 18, 2008

CIRM Legislation on Affordable Access Moves Forward

Legislation aimed at ensuring affordable access to California-financed stem cell therapies easily cleared the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday and is headed for a hearing next week in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Meanwhile the California stem cell agency has posted its own analysis of the bill, SB 1565 by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, and Sen. George Runner, R-Antelope Valley, setting the stage for CIRM directors to take a position on the proposal.

The vote Tuesday on the bill was 16-0. No lawmaker has voted against the bill as it has moved through the Senate and now in the Assembly. If it clears the next committee, it will go to the Assembly floor, but it will have to return to the Senate for concurrence in Assembly amendments.

The CIRM analysis of the measure did not make a recommendation on approval or support. But it said, among other things,
"SB 1565 appears to tie the price for any and all commercialized products to the lowest pricing based on the current benchmarks of the CalRx program in effect at this time. Any change to that price over time, given any new circumstances, need for flexibility in order to leverage commercialization on products for “orphan diseases” or even for time itself would require a change in statute with more than 70 percent vote of both houses of the Legislature as well as approval by the governor. Any change would further be delayed by a minimum of one year in order to enact authorizing statute."
The analysis also took note of another change in the bill since it cleared the Senate. That amendment would delete a Prop. 71 provision that requires a two-thirds vote of the CIRM grants working group to fund research that does not involve pluripotent or progenitor cells. The Prop. 71 provision is aimed at giving a priority to hESC research.

The bill has also been altered to request, instead of mandate, a study of CIRM by an independent commission with an eye to preparing recommendations for changes in its structure, including its built-in conflicts of interest on its board of directors (ICOC).

According to the Assembly staff analysis of the legislation, its authors believe that "given the ICOC/CIRM's unique formation as a public entity, the public's investment of $3 billion in bond funds, and the close-knit nature of the scientific community, the ICOC and CIRM warrant a high level of scrutiny by an independent body...to ensure public trust and confidence and protect the integrity of the ICOC and CIRM from real or perceived conflicts of interest."

The CIRM Legislative Subcommittee will discuss the bill at its meeting on Friday. Its analysis also discusses two other state measures and links to their text and analysis. However, the CIRM link to the analysis for SB1565 is for an older version of the bill. Here is the link to the latest analysis. Sphere: Related Content

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