Saturday, December 18, 2004

"Web of Conflicts"

California's new initiative to fund stem cell research has already been mired in politics. The announcement of the new chairman of the committee overseeing the institute has just increased the level of controversy, according to the New York Times. The new chair, Robert Klein, is a wealthy real-estate developer with a law degree, but with no apparent health care expertise. He does have strong ties to the Democratic party, and contributed to the campaigns of three of the politicians, including Republican Governor Arnold Schwarznegger, who supported him for the chairmanship position. Other members of the oversight committee have been criticized for their financial ties to biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms, in a "web of conflicts," per the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. The vice chairman was the founder of Chiron Corp, (which owned the British factory whose production of flu vaccine was shut down this year, leading to the flu vaccine shortage). We shall see how well this committee oversees the spending of $300 million a year on stem cell research.

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