Santa Monica, CA -- Proposed ownership, or intellectual property policies, to be considered Thursday by the state's stem cell oversight committee fall far short of ensuring that all Californians will have affordable access to the therapies, drugs and cures that their tax dollars fund, said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).
The 29-member committee will consider the rules that govern who owns and controls the discoveries made as a result of the taxpayer-funded research program during its daylong meeting at UC Irvine. On the agenda are provisions that cover both grants made to universities and other nonprofit organizations as well as grants to businesses.
"Californians are spending $6 billion to fund this ground-breaking research," said John M. Simpson, FTCR's Stem Cell Project Director. "There must be provisions that guarantee them affordable access to any therapies, drugs or cures that result."
The new proposed non-profit regulation covers only drugs, not therapies. It would not cover all publicly funded purchases, but merely offer still undetermined discounts under the yet-to-be-implemented California Discount Prescription Drug Program.
Earlier versions of the regulations provided that drugs and therapies resulting from the program would be sold to publicly funded health programs in the state at the federal Medicaid price.
"That Medicaid price provision didn't go far enough to help all Californians," said Simpson. "But now, under pressure from lobbyists for the biomedical industry calling themselves the California Healthcare Institute, the committee is backing away from that meager provision."
"The proposal is a public relations sop," said Simpson. "What's needed is a guarantee that all Californians will have affordable access to the fruits of the research they have funded. There must be a relationship between the public funding and the price of the drug or therapy. If the prices are unreasonable, if there is egregious profiteering, the state attorney general must be able to intervene."
Proposition 71, approved overwhelmingly by the voters in 2004, enacted The California Stem Cell and Cures Act. It created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to oversee funding $3 billion in stem cell research. Including bond financing, $6 billion of public money is at stake. The first research grants will awarded in February.
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is California's leading non-profit and non-partisan consumer watchdog group. For more information visit us on the web at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org. Our stem cell information page is located at: http://www.StemCellWatch.org.