Tuesday, July 08, 2008

CIRM Screams Bloody Murder Over Requirement That Grantees Give Back to the People of California

Oh, this is rich! During the campaign for Proposition 71, proponents promised that Californians would reap a cornucopia of benefits from borrowing $3 billion over 10 years to pay researchers in private companies and their business partners in universities to conduct human cloning and ESCR. And, they said, the poor of California would benefit from cheap medical treatments.

Well the California Legislature is holding them to that, and now the CIRM is wailing and gnashing its teeth that the very existence of the CIRM is threatened! Sounds serious: Is Bush sending in the storm troopers at last? From the CIRM's dire e-letter of doom sent to scientists and supporters:

We need you to take a few minutes to help save the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and embryonic stem cell research in California. This is under siege right now in the state legislature. A few weeks ago, we failed to stop Senate Bill 1565 (Kuehl-Runner). The bill was passed by the Senate, and has now also passed through two Assembly Committees: Health and Judiciary. The final step before a floor vote is a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee (contact information below). We need you to act now and ask for a NO vote on SB 1565.

Over seven million voters expressed a desire to fund embryonic stem cell research when they passed Proposition 71. SB 1565 would remove the built-in preference for embryonic stem cell research--directly contradicting the will of Californians. We passionately support the goal of healthcare that is accessible and affordable to all Californians.

However, this bill will discourage private industry from developing therapies and cures. Currently, the law allows the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to provide companies with additional incentives to develop therapies for "orphan" diseases such as cystic fibrosis and Lou Gehrig's disease. SB 1565 will eliminate these incentives, making it financially unfeasible for companies to pursue therapies for rare diseases. SB 1565 abandons these patients and their families.

What phonies! Did Californians express a "preference" for spending $270 million of their borrowed money for the most expensive buildings money could buy--as most of this year's grants have done? Hardly.

Besides, would that it were so. But since Sheila Kuehl is a primary sponsor--for those who don't know her, she played Zelda on the old Dobie Gillis television show and is very radical--it is highly doubtful that Kuehl's desire is to destroy embryonic stem cell research! (Kuehl and I had a bit of a back and forth when I testified against the ultimately failed assisted suicide bill in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee a few years ago.) And indeed, she doesn't. What is going on is forcing the CIRM to actually be sure that its grantees give back to the state's poor--as the campaign promised it would. From the Legislative Analyst's Report:

This bill requires the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC) of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to include in its intellectual property standards a requirement that each grantee and licensee submit for CIRM's approval a plan that will afford uninsured Californians access to any drug that is, in whole or in part, the result of research funded by the CIRM, requires these plans to include a requirement that grantees and licensees sell drugs that result from CIRM funding and are purchased with public funds at a price that does not exceed any benchmark price in the California Discount Prescription Drug Program , and requires the Little Hoover Commission to conduct a study of the governance structure of the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act by July 1, 2009.
Given the shoddy leadership of the CIRM, the governance structure needs revising. Moreover, the CIRM's actions to date--and its opposition to the bill--shows that the entire enterprise is corporate welfare at its worst.

It passed 40-0 in the Senate. The biggest liberals in the state back it. I think it's gonna pass. Yes!

Correction: The letter was not from the CIRM, but rather, its head, Robert Klein, also the head of a private stem cell lobbying company which actually issued the subject letter. This may be a distinction without much of a difference, but it needs to be noted. Klein subsequently resigned from the lobbying group after it engaged in vitriol against Sheila Kuehl. Would that Klein had resigned from the CIRM!

HT: David Jensen.



At July 09, 2008 , Blogger Don Nelson said...

This has to be too good to be true. How could it possibly be true that billions of dollars for high paid research that would allegedly benefit California and the world, could go unspent for a lack of scientists, many of whom are the best and the brightest and who will go to other countries to develop these cures and undermine the United State's role as a leader in research if we aren't compassionate enough or smart enough to fund them here- how is it possbile that these people will not participate in this great humanitarian effort because she or he would not be allowed to charge the sick and dying whatever they could get for their efforts just like evil greedy oil executives and etc? I'm all for the profit motive, but there went aura of altruism for the CIRM and those participating in their work. The CIRM seems more and more like a pubicly financed California gold rush for a narrow group of people who have become nothing more than another special interest group feeding at the public trough.

At July 10, 2008 , Blogger watchdog on science said...

Fantastic article, SHS! I applaud the California government for their initiative to ensure that some of the benefits of publically-funded scientific research go directly back to the public.

To be quite honest, we should make this a national policy. There are too many scientists who obtain patents and start companies from publically funded research. Scientists get rich off public money while the majority of the public are never able to access any of the benefits of the scientific research… benefits they have supported and paid through taxes!

I think many Californians now would think twice about funding 3 Billion dollars toward research that most likely will show little in return to them. People with serious orphan illnesses who have been medically abandoned, also realize the unethical issues involved in this whole public-funding scheme. The California Senate has it right. Benefits from publically funded research have to come back to the public, at least in part, in a measureable way. Bravo!

At July 10, 2008 , Blogger California Stem Cell Report said...

This item is not exactly on target. The statements quoted are not from the state stem cell agency, but from Robert Klein's private lobbying group, Americans for Cures. You can read more about it at californiastemcellreport.blogspot.com.

At July 10, 2008 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

california stem cell report: Thanks for the clarification, but that seems pretty much a distinction without a huge difference to me.

At July 10, 2008 , Blogger Don Nelson said...

This post has been removed by the author.

At August 18, 2008 , Blogger T E Fine said...

All I can think about at times like this is how California blamed my beloved Texas for the rolling blackouts they used to have. Seems to me they're doing their best to undo themselves, without out help.


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