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Consumer Group Welcomes Introduction of Stem Cell Agency Oversight Bill
Date:2/22/2008

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) today welcomed the introduction of a bill in the California state Senate intended to reform the state stem cell agency.

The bill, SB 1565, was introduced by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-23) and Sen. George Runner (R-17) and seeks to ensure California's neediest residents will have access to therapies and drugs made possible by stem cell agency funding. The legislation also requires California's Little Hoover Commission to study the agency's conflict-ridden governance structure and report to the Legislature by July 1, 2009.

"The stem cell agency's oversight board was designed with built-in conflicts of interest and it's too big to be effective. They always have difficulties mustering a quorum," said John M. Simpson, FTCR's Stem Cell Project Director. "An outside analysis by unbiased observers can only be good. A hard-nosed look by the Little Hoover Commission is just what's needed."

FTCR said the provisions in the bill seeking to guarantee the state's neediest residents have affordable access to the results of state funded research are commendable steps in the right direction, but in fact do not go far enough to protect the interests of all California residents who are paying for the $6 billion stem cell program.

"We need a provision that allows the State Attorney General to intervene if drugs or therapies funded by the stem cell agency are priced unreasonably," said Simpson. "We've seen too many cases where companies benefit from publicly funded research and then set prices at obscene levels. They act like socialists when seeking research funding but are greedy capitalists when there are profits on the table."

FTCR said the leadership of the stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), too frequently operates as if it were not a state agency. "SB 1565 is an important reminder that
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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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