President signs act to help terminally ill patients seek drugs


Right to Try

Giving a measure of hope to people with serious illnesses, President Donald Trump signed the "Right to Try Act" at the end of May. The measure would enable terminally ill patients to gain access to drug treatments that are not yet completely approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

According to a report by Allie Malloy of CNN, Trump said his administration "worked hard on this" but did not understand why it had not been done before. He announced the legislation at a White House ceremony surrounded by patients and families who will be affected by the measure. 

The Right to Try Act will allow for terminally ill patients to seek drug treatments that remain in clinical trials and "have passed Phase 1 of the Food and Drug Administration's approval process" but have not been fully approved by the FDA. Some of the people who oppose the bill are concerned that the legislation will not change much but could have a harmful effect on the way in which the FDA safeguards public health.

Trump believes that "hundreds of thousands" could be saved because of the legislation. As he explained, "With the passage of this bill, Americans will be able to seek cures, and they will finally be given the right to try."

He added, "I would not be here today without the tireless efforts of dedicated members of Congress," specifically recognizing Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pennsylvania, and Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas. "Thanks to you the countless American lives with ultimately be saved." 

According to Morten Wendelbo (a lecturer at the Bush School of Government and Public Service and a research fellow at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University) and Timothy Callaghan (an assistant professor at Texas A&M University Health Science Center), “After a year in which President Trump devoted much of his health policy attention to efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Trump used part of his State of the Union address in January to press Congress to focus attention in 2018 on a new health priority -- the passage of ‘right to try’ legislation.” Writing in CBS News’s “The Conversation,” the authors explained that “President Trump's push for the passage of right to try nationally builds on the efforts of the libertarian-leaning Goldwater Institute, which has used the broad popularity of the policy to help achieve passage of similar legislation in 38 states, although the state legislation differs substantially from the version now on the President's table.”

As the Goldwater Institute explains on its website, more than 1 million Americans die from a terminal illness every year. Many spend years looking for a potential cure or attempt in vain to get accepted into a clinical trial. Unfortunately, government regulations may restrict access to promising new treatments or grant that access after it is too late. Right To Try has been signed into law in 40 states and counting: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.


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