Stem Cell Agency Board Opposes Bill on Price Limits
The oversight board for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine on Tuesday voted to oppose a bill (SB 771) that would set price limits on commercial stem cell therapies that were developed using grants from the state agency, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/11).
California voters in 2004 approved Proposition 71 to create CIRM and to provide $3 billion in taxpayer funding over 10 years for stem cell research. The funding primarily was intended to finance stem cell research, such as human embryonic stem cell research, for which federal funds are restricted.
The measure required that the state receive a share of revenue from patents, royalties and licenses developed using grants from the agency (California Healthline, 3/13).
The Senate Health Committee on Wednesday is scheduled to consider SB 771, introduced last month by Sens. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) and George Runner (R-Lancaster).
The legislation would require that commercial therapies be sold to uninsured residents at the price paid by Medi-Cal and includes provisions that would require that the state receive 2% to 5% of revenue from the products (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/11).
The Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee, which administers CIRM, in December 2006 tentatively adopted a policy that would require grant recipients to pay the state a 1% share of a product's revenue, as well as nine times the amount of the grant (California Healthline, 3/13).
Dale Carlson, spokesperson for the agency's board, said the board voted to oppose the legislation because board members believe ICOC needs more time to develop a policy for ownership of discoveries made using CIRM grants (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/11).
CIRM should "make sure that the rules on licensing products don't stifle commercialization," but the agency also must keep in mind provisions of Proposition 71 stating that state-funded therapies would "provide an opportunity for the state to benefit from royalties, patents and licensing fees," a Sacramento Bee editorial states.
"Lawmakers and others are looking to [CIRM] to provide continued leadership and oversight," the editorial states, concluding that by pursuing such goals, CIRM "could go a long way toward making 2007 a transformative year" (Sacramento Bee, 4/10).