Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation president Stephen Prescott said on April 20 that a bill making it a crime to do stem cell research will hurt Oklahoma research efforts and penalize people with debilitating diseases.
Gov. Brad Henry has until April 22 to sign or veto the bill, which has drawn opposition from the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Prescott was critical of the bill in a statement responding to questions from The Associated Press.
He said it would be the most restrictive ban on stem cell research in the country and will make Oklahoma an “unattractive place” for biotech companies and investors.
“Finally, it will deprive Oklahomans with debilitating diseases of the opportunity to be treated with stem cells.
“There have been very encouraging results in animals studies supporting the idea that stem cells can be used to treat diabetes, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, arthritis and many other diseases where the tissues are damaged.
“More dramatically, there now is an FDA-sanctioned clinical trial to test human embryonic stem cells to treat patients with paralysis resulting from spinal cord injury. This law prohibits such a trial from being conducted in this state; any paralyzed Oklahoman would have to travel to other states to participate in such studies.”
The Oklahoma City chamber announced Saturday it wanted the governor to veto House Bill 1326. It noted that only five other states have passed similar prohibitions.
The board of the Tulsa chamber voted Monday afternoon to ask Henry to strike down the bill.
“Not only will this adversely affect the bioscience industry, but it also gravely limits our medical research capabilities and will have an ensuing negative effect on higher education in Oklahoma,” said Mike Neal, the president and chief executive officer of the Tulsa business organization.
“As one of the top growing industries this century, this bill places Oklahoma at a dangerous disadvantage if it is signed,” Neal said.
Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, introduced the bill.
Reynolds said the bill “does exactly what I wanted it to do and if these people value money more than human life, then they need to find another state, or even another country.”
Source: The Associated Press