HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Stem Cell Research Can't Shrug Off Political Anchors

As you may have heard, 59% of Californians rejected the Bush Administration's stance on the government's role in stem cell research by passing Proposition 71 last fall.  The proposition created a state-funded agency which will make research grants of $3 billion over the next 10 years to institutions and universities conducting stem cell research, making California the only state, thus far, to shrug off the ethical and religious questions that caused the Bush Administration to back off of federally-funded research which involved the destruction of human embryos, including research utilizing stem cells.

However, just as stem cell advocates in that state seem to have hurdled the last obstacle in their path, other, more mundane political bumps in the road have emerged.  It seems that the committee formed by Governor Schwarzeneggar that will be deciding where the grants will be going is not conducting itself in a suitably transparent manner.  This becomes particularly disturbing in light of the fact that the steering committee members come from the same research and biotechnology institutions that sunk $28 million into the campaign to get Prop-71 passed in the first place, institutions which are likely to be the recipients of future grants.  Anyhow, one good grass roots campaign in California deserves another.

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It is my contention that there is no incentive to cure juvenile diabetes because there is too much money to be made, and that shareholders are more important than patients. A representative of a foundation funded by a major insulin manufacturer told me that “it was against their corporate policy to ever support anything that would cure diabetes – after all, look at the good things we do with some of the profits from insulin sales!” According to its 2003 Annual Report, 20% of Eli Lilly’s gross profits of over $12 billion for 2003 were derived from its sales of insulin alone.

Posted by: b. cole | Jan 17, 2005 3:03:56 PM

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