Monday, March 09, 2009

Waiting for Obama, Chapter 5 -- Be Careful What You Wish For

Some of the California reaction today to President Obama's action on stem cell research indirectly highlighted potential side effects that might make the state's stem cell agency uneasy – not to mention the biotech industry.

With the feds back in the game, they may not look kindly on wildcat activities out in fringy California and elsewhere. Turf does, in fact, matter. Moreover, with Congress now back in the stem cell legislation business, to borrow from one oldtime political commentator, no one is safe.

Consider the comment from John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for Consumer Watchdog of Santa Monica, Ca. He issued a call for the feds to act to ensure that taxpayers share in any profit generated by stem cell therapies developed with government funds.

In a letter to President Obama, Consumer Watchdog cited the profit-sharing model at CIRM and said,
“Celebrating the change in policy is not enough, however. It is now necessary, more than ever, to examine the regulations governing the way federal funds are distributed to researchers. A change in those rules is needed and we call on you to work with Congress to implement reform of the Bayh-Dole Act.”
Businesses in California have taken issue with CIRM's profit-sharing rules, but the state agency has now broken the Bayh-Dole ice. The precedent in California will help fuel efforts to make changes in the federal law.

From Oakland, Ca., came another call for federal action that could have an impact on CIRM. Marcy Darnovsky, associate executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, said the national government should enact enforceable rules for all stem cell research, public and private. Such rules would supersede those in California.

Jesse Reynolds
, policy director of the center, said,
"We've seen what happens with inadequate regulation and oversight in the financial sector. The human biotechnology sector also needs effective public policy."
The Dickey-Wicker amendment is already on the table in Congress. It could become the vehicle for a host of challenges to the established order in the biotech business.

1 comment:

  1. Let's think of how many Americans are suffering from ailments and what this research can do for them. I'm sure everyone reading this knows someone important to them that is affected by one of these maladies.Research in the U.S.has not progressed since earlier this decade, cures are a very long time away and lets not even discuss the approval requirement by the FDA. At least this can be seen as a huge step forward to join the rest of the world at bringing about cures that could help millions of people including you and I some day.