Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Media Coverage of California's New Stem Cell CEO: Mills, Prochymal and Fresh Eyes

Randy Mills (pink tie) and three CIRM directors following today's meeting. Left to
 right, Francisco Prieto, a Sacramento physician. Mills, Jeff Sheehy, a communications
manager at UC San Francisco, and Ken Burtis, a genetics professor at UC Davis
California Stem Cell Report photo
The appointment of Randy Mills, former CEO of a Maryland stem cell firm, attracted quick attention today from the mainstream media as well as the scientific press.

Here is a sample of the coverage as of early evening Wednesday California time.

Kelly Servick of the journal Science wrote,
“Under Mills’ leadership, Columbia, Maryland-based Osiris became the first company to receive regulatory approval for a stem cell drug. Canadian regulators in 2012 approved Prochymal to treat complications from bone marrow transplants. 'We need something like that to happen with some of our projects,' says (Jeff) Sheehy (a member of the CIRM governing board). 
“The board’s choice 'reflects an evolution of CIRM and how they look at themselves,' says Michael May, CEO of the Centre for Commercialization and Regenerative Medicine in Toronto, who in 2012 served on an Institute of Medicine panel tasked with reviewing CIRM’s structure and policies. 'The message is [one of] being more business-like.' Mills is viewed as a pioneer in the stem cell industry, May adds, and may help cultivate partnerships that support CIRM as it looks for new potential funding sources.”

Bradley Fikes of the San Diego U-T reported,
“Biotech reporter Adam Feuerstein dinged Mills last May for claiming Prochymal was the most widely used stem cell drug in the world, when it actually had no sales.
"'Mills has a different definition of 'widely used' than most investors,' Feuerstein wrote.
"Osiris sold Prochymal and the rest of its stem cell business in October to Australia-based Mesoblast for up to $100 million; $50 million in cash and stock and up to an additional $50 million in milestone payments.”

Monte Morin and Eryn Brown of the Los Angeles Times quoted CIRM Chairman Jonathan Thomas as saying Mills will “bring a fresh set of eyes and will help work with our staff on our directions going forward.”

Natalie Sherman of the Baltimore Sun and Erin Allday of the San Francisco Chronicle noted that Mills was part of the large panel of scientists who make the virtually all the decisions on funding grant applications. Chris Rauber of the San Francisco Business Times also had a story.
The agency's press release can be found here.

The California Stem Cell Report will carry an item tomorrow on additional coverage that is likely to surface. 
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