New Science Committee Proposal on Ownership and Control of Stem Cell Research Short-Changes Voters

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California Plan Must Ensure That the Public Benefits from Prop 71 Funds

Santa Monica, CA — A recommendation to follow the flawed federal approach to controlling ownership of discoveries resulting from taxpayer-funded stem cell research short-changes Californians, a consumer advocacy group said today.

The proposal was released late Tuesday by the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST). It urged the Proposition 71 stem cell institute to follow the federal Bayh-Dole Act in developing rules to govern discoveries made with publicly-funded research. It advocates the same approach for other state-funded research. Federal rules would not fulfill Proposition 71‘s promise to give voters access to new medical cures.

“Too often the flawed federal rules only benefit drug and biotech companies underwriting their research, but providing no fair and easy access to the medical cures the public financed,” said John M. Simpson, Stem Cell Project director for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).

A recent analysis of the effect of federal rules on the 50 top-selling drugs over a five-year period found that forty-five of them received millions of dollars of taxpayer money with virtually no payback to patients or taxpayers.

The flawed federal rules have also caused over-commercialization of universities and research institutions. “It’s resulted in too many patents on discoveries that should be in the public domain and shared easily among researchers so new cures are quickly found,” Simpson said. “Instead, too many patents — what many call patent thickets — have hindered the flow of information and exchange of ideas.”

The Council acknowledges that there are other models for managing the discoveries — so-called intellectual property (IP) — that result from publicly-funded research. These include public domain for science, patent pooling and experimentation with licensing that would require access to drugs and cures at an affordable prices.

The Council said these approaches show “a range of creative and innovative approaches to handling IP that warrant further exploration and public discussion.”

“Why the Council didn’t follow its own advice is a mystery,” said Simpson. “These are exactly the solutions the California stem cell committee should explore and implement as it establishes the lead worldwide in publicly funded stem cell research. Let’s do it right in California; Proposition 71 wasn’t meant to be a blank check for biotech.”

Currently the stem cell oversight committee is developing intellectual property (IP) rules that determine who will control and ultimately benefit from valuable drugs and treatments resulting from the state’s stem cell research program. FTCR will be presenting the oversight committee with a comprehensive report on IP policy. It is founded on three principles:

Affordability. Cures and treatments must be priced so all Californians can afford and benefit from them, not just a wealthy few.

Accessibility. Not only do all Californians deserve access to Prop 71-funded therapies, but stem cell researchers need access to the results of other Prop 71-funded research to develop the widest range of cures.

Accountability. Polices must assure that grantees and licensees fulfill their obligations when benefiting from public money.

CCST’s proposal is available at:

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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is California’s leading nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization. Click here for more information about stem research in California.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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