Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Text of Buck Institute Letter on SB 1565

Here is the text of a July 15 letter to Assemblyman Jared Huffman, a member of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, from the Buck Institute, opposing legislation aimed at ensuring affordable access to state-financed stem cell therapies.

Dear Assemblyman Huffman,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on SB 1565.  We understand that SB 1565 will be heard before the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, July 16th, at the Sacramento Capitol. As this will be the last full committee hearing on SB 1565, before it goes to the Assembly floor, on behalf of the Buck Institute I would like to provide you with our view of this proposed bill.
We strongly oppose SB 1565.  Our reading of the proposed changes led us to conclude that the changes are unnecessary and, if adopted, would likely have several negative consequences.  Our primary objections are set forth below:
The scientific review committees are represented by specialists in stem cell research.   They are already tasked with reviewing many excellent applications for funding of research in the stem cell arena.  It is important work done on often grueling schedules and any requests to evaluate “vitally important research” not associated with stem cell and/or stem cell related work will distract their attention from the work they were specifically chosen to perform.  We believe the purpose of Proposition 71 will be altered by the amendment and moreover, alter the mission of the scientific review committees.
 We believe the proposed amendment will disrupt the conduct of human embryonic stem cell research as set forth in Proposition 71, the Constitution of the State of California and the will of a majority of the voters in California.  If passed, the proposed amendment would alter the will of the people without their consent. 
The potential change in the direction of stem cell research funding would come at a crucial juncture in the development of the CIRM.  The development of the CIRM has been guided by the principles embodied in Proposition 71 and is just beginning to apply its full attention to stem cell research funding rather than the startup activities and infrastructure development of the largest and singularly unique enterprise of its kind.
The CIRM has been under virtually constant scrutiny from its inception.  Our experiences with the CIRM and its staff have not always turned out as we had hoped but we have never had reason to question the CIRM’s dedication to fulfillment of the intentions of Proposition 71.  We see no benefit in adding more layers of scrutiny to an already transparent organization. 
The fair pricing sections proposed by SB 1565 are redundant to administrative procedures that we have seen first hand to be working to ensure that all Californians benefit from therapies developed by Proposition 71.
With the above in our thoughts, we ask that you oppose the passage of SB 1565.
For the sake of completeness, I have attached a cogent editorial written by a colleague, Don Reed.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or desire any clarification of our position on SB1565.
Jim Kovach, M.D., J.D.
President & COO
Buck Institute for Age Research

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