The Wyden-Snowe Stem Cell Disinvestment Bill

  • by: |
  • 01/19/2007
Story Landis, director of the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke testified before a Senate committee today that need for federal funding for embyronic stem cell research was compelling:

"Science works best when scientists can pursue all avenues of research," Landis said. "If the cure for Parkinson's disease or juvenile diabetes lay behind one of four doors, wouldn't you want the option to open all four doors at once instead of one door?"

That's fine. Everyone's in favor of funding one form of stem cell research or another. But why then support a bill that would kill private sector funding of stem cell research or undermine private sector investment that complements or builds on federal funding. Namely the Wyden-Snowe bill requiring direct government negotiation -- meaning price controls, restricting/delaying access to new medicines -- under the following circumstances --

Under the Snowe-Wyden proposal, that ban would be lifted and the HHS Secretary would be required to negotiate if:

* A drug is a single source drug, which means there is only one brand name of the drug available;

* A drug was created with substantial taxpayer funding for its research and development;

* A private insurance plan requests help; and

* For any fallback plan for which the Secretary must provide.

A cure for Parkinson's would definitely pull a hat trick under this ingenious piece of legislation. Why not just hang out a sign that says: "Companies that successfully invest in stem cell research will be punished for doing so?"

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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