Trump urges Congress to pass ‘Right to Try’ experimental drug bill

Toya Sarno Jordan

President Trump is calling on Congress to pass a bill aimed at allowing terminally ill patients to request access to experimental drugs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t yet approved.

“We also believe that patients with terminal conditions, terminal illness, should have access to experimental treatment immediately that could potentially save their lives,” Trump said in his State of the Union address Tuesday.

“People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure. I want to give them a chance right here at home,” he continued. “It’s time for Congress to give these wonderful, incredible Americans the ‘right to try.’”

{mosads}Last year, the Senate passed the bill, known as “right to try,” by unanimous consent, and groups backed by billionaire conservative donors Charles and David Koch are pushing the House to do the same. Vice President Pence is a staunch supporter of the legislation, which he signed when he was governor of Indiana.

The majority of states already have the law on their books. But supporters of the bill say federal legislation is needed so that patients don’t fear that the federal government will override state regulations.

“Right to try” bills would let terminally ill patients use medication that has completed the FDA’s preliminary testing and a small-scale clinical trial — as long as the drug is undergoing further clinical trials at the agency.

Opponents of the measure are concerned that the use of drugs the FDA hasn’t approved bypasses the agency’s authority and could also undermine drug development efforts and patient safety. They also say that the bill doesn’t mean patients will have access to unapproved drugs because companies will not be compelled to provide them with the medicine.

The FDA has a compassionate-use program, allowing physicians to apply to receive FDA approval for a seriously ill patient to access an investigational drug. Supporters of “right to try” laws say that process is cumbersome.

Tags Clinical pharmacology Clinical trial Donald Trump Food and Drug Administration Investigational New Drug Right-to-try law SOTU 2018 State of the Union terminal illness
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