Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day Editorials on CIRM

Two California newspapers came out with editorials today praising actions last week by the California stem cell agency. It is only coincidental that the pieces appeared on Valentine's Day. The critics still want more.

The Sacramento Bee, one of the stronger critics of CIRM, said.

"On Friday, Klein and the oversight committee took a big step toward reversing past mistakes and demonstrating they can operate as an open, responsive public body. After listening to public interest groups, ethicists and legislators, the 29-member committee approved policies on medical standards and commercial licensing of stem cell therapies that, while not perfect, are a vast improvement over where the institute was heading just a few months ago."

But it also wrote,
"For the last several months, the institute has refused to make public the economic disclosure forms filed by out-of-state scientists who will recommend millions of dollars in research grants. The public deserves to know if these advisers have ties to companies and researchers applying for public monies. Since scientists regularly disclose their potential conflicts when publishing or presenting their work, there is no reason they cannot do so while making key decisions on taxpayer-funded grants."

The San Jose Mercury News also praised the egg and royalty sharing policies adopted last week by CIRM.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights hitched a bit of a ride too on the Valentine Day bandwagon, lauding the actions as moving in the right direction.

But it urged more royalty money for the state, tougher enforcement mechanisms to assure low prices on therapies and creation of a stem cell patent pool to share information on CIRM-funded inventions.

"Certainly companies should make a fair profit on drugs they develop based on Proposition 71-funded research. But they must not be allowed to benefit unreasonably at the public's expense. The Attorney General should have the right to intervene -- 'march-in rights' -- in the event of unreasonable pricing," said John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for the foundation in a letter to CIRM Chairman Robert Klein.

We should also note the piece by Marisa Lagos of the San Francisco Examiner on last Friday's meeting. It pointed out that the CIRM regulations could become a model for the nation.

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