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Consumer Group Wants Public to Share Profits From Federally Funded Stem Cell and Medical Research
Date:3/9/2009

Lauds Lifting of Ban and Calls on President Obama to Follow Policies Established by California Stem Cell Agency

SANTA MONICA, Calif., March 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumer Watchdog today praised President Obama for lifting Bush era restrictions on federal funding of stem cell research and called on him to implement further policy changes that would allow taxpayers to share in any profits from research they have funded.

In a letter to President Obama, the nonpartisan nonprofit Consumer Watchdog said policies developed by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which runs the state's $6 billion stem cell research program, could be a model for federal policy.

"Your action will undoubtedly spur new gains in this vital area of medical research," wrote John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Stem Cell Project director. "Celebrating the change in policy is not enough, however. It is now necessary, more than ever, to examine the regulations governing the way federal funds are distributed to researchers. A change in those rules is needed and we call on you to work with Congress to implement reform of the Bayh-Dole Act."

Most of the federal funding for biomedical research is funneled through the National Institutes of Health. Basic scientific research is usually done at universities and non-profit research institutions, most of it with federal funds. Under the Bayh-Dole Act discoveries that are made at these institutions can be patented by them. They then license the patents to industry. The royalties go only to the universities and research institutions. Nothing is returned to the taxpaying public who funded the research.

"Under Bayh-Dole, the public pays twice for medical discoveries," said Simpson, "First we fund the research; then we are faced with high drug prices protected by the monopoly that the patent guarantees."

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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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