Monday, October 31, 2005

FTCR: Affordable Therapy, Strong Public Oversight, Diverse Research

Publicly financed stem cell research may be a "gold mine" for biotech companies, but California taxpayers should not "get the shaft," the California Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights said today.

Jerry Flanagan, health care policy director for the group, said in a statement that the California stem cell agency should ensure that taxpayers and patients "have a controlling interest" in any therapies developed through CIRM grants.

"Drug and biotech companies see publicly-financed research as a gold mine. Policymakers must ensure that taxpayers and patients don’t get the shaft. That means that the stem cell research institute must adopt policies that guarantee that new treatments are affordable,” Flanagan said prior to the beginning of this morning's legislative hearing into intellectual property policies involving the stem cell agency.

The group enunciated three principles for IP and the agency: affordability, public control and oversight and diversity of research.

Flanagan said the agency should provide "on-going public control of how research products are priced" and ensure that results are "shared with other researchers to guarantee open access to new research tools."

"Intellectual property guidelines must encourage broad investment of funds to develop cures for the widest ranges of illnesses, not just those with well-heeled advocates," the organization said, citing sickle cell anemia which afflicts a portion of the African-American population. Flanagan also renewed his group's call for better public oversight of conflicts of interest between grantors and grant recipients.

Below is the full text of the organization's press release, which has not yet been posted on its web site.

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