Rep. Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai – Kalama Valley) plans to introduce legislation that will make it legal for a terminally ill patient to access investigational drugs. The bill, modeled after a Colorado law that allows terminally ill patients to use experimental drugs without getting federal approval, addresses issues that may arise when terminally ill patients seek to use a medication whose safety and effectiveness is still being tested in clinical trials. Such “right to try” laws have also been passed in Louisiana and Missouri, and will be put to Arizona voters this November as a ballot proposition.
“The bottom line is that, whether it be through speeding up valuable research, or by encouraging the FDA to support expanded access to experimental treatments, this bill is all about saving lives,” Ward said.
According to the Goldwater Institute, fewer than three percent of the sickest patients are able to access investigational drugs through clinical trials, and more than one million Americans die from a terminal illness each year.
This legislation does not require manufacturers to make investigational products available to terminally ill patients, but gives them the “Right to Try” to access potentially life-saving investigational drugs. “The terminally ill patient must assume ultimate responsibility for any consequences resulting from taking the investigational medicine, good or bad, but people should have that choice, and giving them that option is the hallmark of a compassionate society,” Ward said.
Rep. Gene Ward, Minority Leader Emeritus