Friday, February 01, 2013

Sacramento Bee: Stem Cell Agency Falling Short on IOM Recommendations

It's exceedingly rare when the California stem cell agency makes the front page of any newspaper.

So it is worthy of note that The Sacramento Bee this morning carried a lengthy piece on its page one about the agency and its response to the blue-ribbon Institute of Medicine (IOM) report.

The headline said,
 “Analyst: Stem cell agency reforms fall short.”
The analyst is the Institute of Medicine, more specifically Harold Shapiro, chairman of the panel that studied California's $3 billion research effort for 17 months at a cost of $700,000 to the agency.

Bee reporter Cynthia Craft wrote that Shapiro said the stem cell agency is “falling short” in its response to the IOM recommendation.

Craft wrote,
"'There certainly is a gap between what we recommended and what they responded with,' said Shapiro, president emeritus at Princeton University. ' I wish they had moved closer to our recommendations.'"
Craft said the IOM made sweeping recommendations “emphasizing the need for new blood on a governing board that has been plagued by the appearance of conflicts of interest, cronyism and sluggishness in getting stem-cell products to market.”

Craft also interviewed Jonathan Thomas, chairman of the stem cell agency, who said some of the IOM recommendations would take legislative action. But Thomas said that was “out of the question.”

Craft wrote,
“The process would take years, he said. The first opportunity to get on the ballot, for instance, would be in the fall of 2014.”
The agency will run out of cash for new grants in less than four years.

Craft's story was the first major news article in years about the agency in the Bee, the only daily newspaper in the state's capital. She reviewed a bit of the history of the agency and concerns about conflicts of interest. She concluded,
“Shapiro said he stands firmly behind his committee's report. 
"'I think our recommendations sit together and interrelate to each other well – and should have been moved along as quickly as possible,' Shapiro said. 
"'It might have been helpful if they indicated to us what they were willing to do and what they weren't,' he said."
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