Santa Monica, CA — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should sign a stem cell public accountability bill, SB1565, into law, Consumer Watchdog said today. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl and Sen. George Runner, was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature.
In a letter to the governor, the nonpartisan, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization said the bill would help ensure that the people paying $6 billion for stem cell research – the taxpayers of California – will have affordable access to the fruits of the research they are funding. In addition the bill will help make the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC) more responsive and accountable to the public. It asks the state’s Little Hoover Commission to recommend ways to ensure public accountability and reduce conflicts of interest on the ICOC.
“The bill simply codifies into law the intellectual property provisions worked out through the agency’s regulatory process,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog Stem Cell project director. “Without this law the relatively modest provisions are likely to be changed in the face of corporate pressure. And certainly an unbiased examination by the Little Hoover Commissioners can only benefit the $6 billion program.”
Consumer Watchdog will continue to seek legislation that would give the attorney general the right to intervene if drugs or treatments funded by CIRM are priced unreasonably.
“This is actually a very modest bill in its scope,” said Simpson. “One important thing it does is demonstrate that the Legislature has an appropriate oversight role regarding the stem cell agency. It is, after all, a state agency — not a private foundation.”
Consumer Watchdog’s Stem Cell Oversight and Accountability Project is working to ensure that California’s landmark stem cell research program offers accessible and affordable cures and treatments to the taxpayers who have funded it. The program will sell $3 billion in bonds over a decade to fund stem cell research. Financing charges mean the project, the largest source of stem cell research funding in the world, will cost California taxpayers $6 billion.
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Consumer Watchdog is California’s leading nonprofit and nonpartisan consumer watchdog group. For more information visit us on the web at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org.