Earlier today, a bill signed into law by President Donald Trump will give terminally ill patients access to experimental treatment methods. The new “right to try” law has the potential to improve the lives of “hundreds of thousands” of lives, noted the president.
Under the legislation, terminally ill patients will be able to try drug treatments that are currently in clinical trials but do not have full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. While signing the bill in front of patients and families that will directly benefit from the right to try law, the president said several times he couldn’t comprehend why this hadn’t been done already.
“Thousands of terminally ill Americans will finally have hope, and the fighting chance, and I think it’s going to better than a chance, that they will be cured, they will be helped, and be able to be with their families for a long time, or maybe just for a longer time,” Trump said, per a report from The Hill.
While the law makes complete sense to the president and has the support of most Republicans, many Democrats and public health groups oppose the right to try legislation. Challengers fear the law will give patients a false sense of hope and may open the door to drugs that cause more harm than good. They argue bypassing certain FDA safeguards designed to protect patients will lead to unforeseen risks and likely unwanted consequences.
However, supporters of the law believe the right to try legislation will bring new treatment opportunities to terminally ill patients who were previously out of other options. Advocates say the FDA treatment approval process takes way too long and many dying individuals don’t have time to wait.
Initially sponsored by Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the Right to Try Act of 2017 was passed in the Senate by unanimous vote in August. The bill then went to the House and passed with a 250-169 vote last week.
“Today’s Right to Try bill signing was a moment of deserved celebration for everyone who fought to return a little freedom and restore hope to terminally ill patients and their families,” Johnson told Fox News. “I applaud and thank them all.”
Joining President Trump during today’s signing was Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, FDA Deputy Commissioner Anna Abram, and FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. Since the very beginning of the Trump administration, the president had been pushing Congress to pass a bill designed to help terminally ill patients, mentioning it specifically in his first State of the Union address.