Thursday, July 03, 2008

Nosing Around for Stem Cell Millions

More camels are trying to crawl into the hundred-million-dollar, California stem cell supplier tent.

But just how many and which camels ultimately will end up enjoying the bounty of the Golden State is very much up in the air.

Both the state's $3 billion stem cell agency and the California Legislature have different approaches to defining California supplier for the purposes of research funded by CIRM. Prop. 71 requires CIRM grant recipients to give purchasing preference to California businesses. However, the measure failed to define exactly what a California supplier is.

So nearly four years after passage of Prop. 71, the state is trying to deal with the issue. The question drew a small platoon of business representatives to the two-day meeting last week of the board of directors of the agency. The meeting ran long and no resolution appeared imminent, so there was little public testimony but plenty of private discussions.

CIRM, the various interested parties and a representative from the office of Assemblyman Gene Mullin, D-San Mateo, basically said they need more time to negotiate the issue and talk with each other.

Mullin's supplier definition bill, AB 2381, is now before the Senate Appropriations Committee after easily winning Assembly approval. The measure was originally supported by Invitrogen, which has now backed away. Instead, it is supported by Becton, Dickinson and Co., ThermoFisher Scientific and the Advanced Medical Technology Association.

Here is the key wordage in the July 2 version of the measure. Following that language is the last available public language from CIRM. Be aware that these definitions could change with rapidity. If you want to have a hand in the debate, contact Mullin's office and CIRM soon.
"'California supplier' means any sole proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, corporation, or other business entity that meets any of the following criteria:
"(A) The owners or policymaking officers are domiciled in California and the permanent, principal office or place of business from which the supplier's trade is directed or managed is located in California.
"(B) A business or corporation, including those owned by, or under common control of, a corporation, that meets all of the following criteria:
"(i) Has owned and operated a manufacturing facility or research facility located in California that researches, develops, builds, or manufactures products for life sciences research, continuously during the five years prior to submitting a bid or proposal to provide supplies to a California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) grantee.
"(ii) Has been licensed by the state on a continuous basis to conduct business within the state during the five years prior to submitting a bid or proposal to provide supplies to a CIRM grantee.
"(iii) Has continuously employed California residents for work within the state during the five years prior to submitting a bid or proposal to provide supplies to a CIRM grantee.
"(C) The entity produces, builds, or manufactures a product or products in California and for the specific product or products that are used by CIRM facilities grantees.
"(2) For purposes of qualifying as a California supplier, a distribution or sales management office or facility does not qualify as a manufacturing or research facility."
Here is the CIRM language from last week:
"'California supplier' means any sole proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, corporation, or other business entity:
"(1) whose permanent, principal office or place of business from which the supplier’s trade is directed or managed is located in California; or
"(2) that includes a business unit, division or subsidiary whose permanent principal office or place of business from which the unit, division or subsidiary’s trade is directed or managed is located in California, for the specific product or products that are sold by the unit, division or subsidiary to CIRM grantees; or
"(3) that employs at least one-third of its total employees in California; or
"(4) that produces, builds, or manufactures a product or products in California for the specific product or products that are sold to CIRM grantees; or
"(5) that sells a product or products in California, for the specific product or products that are sold to CIRM grantees, so long as the supplier certifies that at least 50% of the cost of the product is attributable to activity undertaken in California."
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