Will Texas go it alone by giving stem cell clinics free rein or will it break new ground by passing laws that promote reasonable stem cell clinical practices with safeguards? Some middle ground?
It’s a dramatic moment for the stem cell field as legislation under consideration in Texas could have big impact on stem cell businesses and patients in that state as well as on the stem cell field overall. As soon as tomorrow we may know what direction the state goes with the stem cell legislation. One possibility is that disagreements amongst lawmakers about issues such as assurances of patient protections, data collection, and oversight could end up meaning no legislation comes through in the end.
As I blogged before here, the battle began in the Texas House. There three bills ultimately got approved, after a sometimes emotional and dramatic session, which if enacted into law would be plums to stem cell clinics by saying that clinics could experiment on patients with little data to back up what they were doing and yet charge patients an arm and a leg for doing so…and patients would even been restricted in their rights including to sue.
That doesn’t seem right. But understandably some patients have been advocates for these bills as there are many patients are looking for hope and some want less oversight, but in reality these House bills would be harmful to patients and the stem cell field. Who else is behind these bills? You can bet that stem cell clinic businesses (possibly including Celltex?) have pumped big money into the Texas Legislature to try to get the desired laws.
Through efforts of many parties led by Texans for Cures including its Chairman David Bales working with Texas Senators, the Senate versions of these bills have evolved and come to include a number of responsible provisions that would provide balance and patient protections including not allowing for charging for risky experimental offerings. They’ve done really good work. I still find myself at the moment unsure of whether on balance I would feel 100% comfortable supporting these bills entirely and would have to see how the language ends up if something is passed in the end. Still they are dramatically better than what the Texas House passed and contain good common sense provisions so a toast to Texans for Cures.
When a House and Senate in a state or at the federal level pass different versions of bills, they must have a conference and hammer out the final legislation. Now in Texas at this stage there’s conflict between the House and Senate over how to resolve the differences. The House apparently wants the bills to more simply green light stem cell clinics to do what the heck they want and profit big time off of patients from their high-risk experiments.
And there’s just hours left to vote.
How will it all turn out?