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'Right to Try' Is a Healthy and Long Overdue Prescription

However, the House is unnecessarily letting the bill sit in limbo. Republicans have an easy decision to make.

Jordan Candler · Feb. 5, 2018

When it comes to medicinal decisions, the last thing anybody wants or needs is unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles. That’s not to say that some regulation isn’t necessary, but like any government agency, the FDA has its shortcomings, including hindering the accessibility to promising medicines. Fortunately, Congress sits on the precipice of positively changing the process of experimenting with non-FDA-recognized drugs. It’s all contingent on the House making it happen.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “A right-to-try bill sponsored by Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson passed the Senate last year. The bill essentially says: Government will not get in the way of a patient with a life-threatening disease who wants to take a flyer on a treatment not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The drug must have cleared a phase of FDA trials for safety but not efficacy.”

The bill’s limbo in the House is rather peculiar, since that’s where Republicans hold the biggest majority. It stands to reason that Republicans there would give the bill immediate approval. But as the Journal notes, “The House has sat on the bill for months, and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden has offered bromides about giving patients ‘false hope,’ which is paternalism usually exhibited by the left.”

Contrary to Walden, the opposite is true. For people who suffer from life-threatening diseases and who have extremely limited or even no treatment options, experimenting with prospective drugs is a potential life-saver. Having any hope is better than having no hope whatsoever. It’s also quite paradoxical that the bill faces opposition from some of the same people who are morally okay with assisted suicide. They approve of allowing chronic sufferers an early death, but at the same time they disprove of giving patients a chance at life. Where’s the rationale in that?

Donald Trump wisely stated in last Tuesday’s State of the Union, “We … believe that patients with terminal conditions, and terminal illness, should have access to experimental treatment immediately that could potentially save their lives. 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. It’s time for Congress to give these wonderful, incredible Americans the right to try.”

The House has an easy decision to make here, and that is to let ill Americans have potentially life-saving medicines that too often get caught up in the FDA’s tedious and time-consuming approval process.

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