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San Francisco, CA -- The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) today told a committee drawing up rules governing ownership and control of Proposition 71-funded stem cell research that discoveries funded by $6 billion in taxpayers' money should belong to the state.

The stem cell institute committee meeting in San Francisco today began working on rules for businesses receiving Prop 71 funds for research. The stem cell oversight committee has already approved ownership and licensing rules -- so called intellectual property (IP) standards -- for universities and non-profit organizations.

"With biotech firms already lining up to share in the Prop 71 funds, it's disconcerting to hear venture capitalists like Steve Burrill refer to the stem cell institute's grants as 'almost like free money,'" FTCR Stem Cell Project Director John M. Simpson wrote in a letter to Ed Penhoet, IP Task Force chairman. "There is a much greater possibility for conflicts and abuse in the commercial sphere, so the rules just approved for universities and non-profit institutions are only a starting point. As you and the task force write IP rules for businesses you should remember that although Californians overwhelmingly approved Prop 71, they never intended a blank check for biotech." Read FTCR's letter.

FTCR said that if Prop 71 money funds research, perhaps a clinical trial, for a treatment covered by a patent or license already held by a business, California should receive a fair commission when it is finally available on the market. The state should be able to take cash payments or, like any venture capitalist, negotiate an equity share -- stock -- in the business.

"If Prop 71 money funds research, perhaps a clinical trial' California should receive a fair commission when it is finally available on the market," wrote Simpson. "If a patentable discovery results from Prop 71-funded research by a business, the state should own it and place it in a patent pool so that the research can be as broadly shared as possible."

Read FTCR's recent report about public benefit in stem cell research available at:

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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 at located at: http://www.stemcellwatch.org