Friday, October 23, 2020

Proposition 14: Stem Cell Balderdash at Sacramento Bee

Has California's stem cell program "relieved the suffering of millions?” The Sacramento Bee thinks so, but the assertion is totally false. 

It was contained in an editorial today that endorsed Proposition 14, which would save the state stem cell program from financial extinction along with broadly expanding the scope of the agency, known formally as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)

The agency was created in 2004 and was given $3 billion that the state borrowed. The cash is now running out. And the agency will begin closing its doors this winter without a massive infusion of money. Proposition 14 provides $5.5 billion. 

During its nearly 16 years, the agency CIRM has not yet funded research that has led to a stem cell treatment widely available to the public and approved by the federal government. 

It has helped to fund 64 clinical trials, which are a necessary prelude to commercializing a therapy. Some 30,000 patients would have to be enrolled in each of those trials to bring the "relieved-suffering" figure to two million.

The “suffering of millions” rhetoric was not the only case where the editorial echoed campaign hype. The Bee also said that the measure would cost only “$5 per person per year for 30 years,”  repeating an unsubstantiated assertion by the campaign. It may or may not be accurate, but it would involve a series of calculations and assumptions that the campaign is unwilling to share with the public. 

The California Stem Cell Report asked the campaign 53 days ago how it came up with the figure. The campaign still has not responded, which is a reasonable indication that the campaign lacks confidence in the number, to put it mildly.   

The editorial is behind a paywall. If you would like to see a copy, please email

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