Thursday, February 11, 2010

Statement on CIRM's Life Span From the Agency's Counsel

Here is the text of the statement to the California Stem Cell Report from James Harrison of Remcho, Johansen &  Purcell of San Leandro, Ca., CIRM's outside counsel, on the life expectancy of the stem cell agency. 
"We wrote Prop. 71 to protect the voters' mandate against ideologically motivated litigation that could deny Californians the opportunity to have ten full years of medical and scientific advances for therapies. With ten full years of funding, the public will have an opportunity to evaluate CIRM's performance and the value of Prop. 71 to California's patients and the health care budget. At the end of this period, CIRM expects to be able to demonstrate an extremely persuasive performance.

"To permit this evaluation to occur and to protect against delays arising from events beyond the agency's control (such as the litigation, which delayed the program for two and one half years), the measure was drafted to provide some flexibility. Thus, the measure sets forth limits on the percentage of funds that the agency can commit over the first 10 years of grant making (section 125290.70(a)(1)(B)), but permits funds that are not allocated in a particular year to be carried over to the following years. Likewise, the bond act authorizes the issuance of $350 million per year in bonds, but permits any remaining amount to be carried over into subsequent years. (Section 125291.45(b).)

"To date, CIRM has committed approximately one billion and expects to commit the remainder over the course of the next 7 years, which is consistent with the ten year time frame, as adjusted by the delay caused by the litigation. Of course, if there are other delays, such as federal regulatory roadblocks or other events beyond CIRM's control, this time frame could be extended.

"The loan program could also extend this time frame. To extent that CIRM recovers money from the loan program, the funds will be used to make new grants and loans to help successful proofs of concept reach patients, thereby providing the voters with more research funding than they've paid for.

"Throughout the campaign, the proponents of Prop. 71 explained that it was their intent for the funds to be committed over a period of ten years to permit the voters to evaluate the agency's performance, but they noted that if there were delays, the measure was designed to permit ten full years of funding as a basis for evaluating the value of Prop. 71.

"Numerous interviews were given to explain how Prop. 71 would adjust for delay by extending the effective time frame. Similarly, many interviews focused on the ability to reduce funding in a particular years if the scientific quality dropped in that year, with the funds saved to be used in later years, perhaps adding a year or two to the program term."
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