On Wednesday, President Trump signed a federal right-to-try bill into law with great fanfare, making extravagant claims for it. It’s time to reiterate one last time that right-to-try will not help terminally ill patients but it will strip important protections from them. It’s pure snake oil.
“Right-to-try” laws are a cruel sham that purport to allow terminally ill patients access to promising experimental drugs. In reality, they strip away many protections and leave vulnerable patients on their own. After four years and a number of toothless state laws, a federal version of “right-to-try” has passed Congress and is poised to become law. Once President Trump signs the bill this week, this federal version of “right-to-try” will leave terminally ill patients on their own and will likely be the first step in returning the FDA to its pre-thalidomide state, in which it only required evidence of safety, not efficacy, to approve drugs.
It’s finally happened. A “right-to-try” bill is coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives. It’s been slightly modified from the version that passed the Senate last year to make it less patient-hostile, but it’s still the same cruel sham that right-to-try has always been.
So-called “right-to-try” laws have passed in 38 states. A cruel sham whose real purpose has nothing to do with helping terminally ill patients and everything to do with the libertarian war on FDA regulation, these laws claim to allow terminally ill patients to bypass the FDA and obtain access to experimental drugs that have passed phase I testing. They do nothing of the sort, which is why right-to-try advocates have “gone federal.” A right-to-try bill has passed the Senate, and Vice President Mike Pence and Koch Brothers-backed groups are lobbying hard to pass it in the House. There is still hope to stop it.
So-called “right-to-try” is a cruel sham that holds out the mostly false hope of survival to terminally ill patients and their families. In return, all they have to give up is patient protections and agree to pay to be guinea pigs to test a drug company’s product. The product of an ideology that uses the terminally ill as shields to hide the ideological motives behind the law, which are to hobble the FDA, right-to-try is a terrible idea. It’s bad for patients, but it just passed the Senate and could well become the law of the land when the House reconvenes in September if it isn’t stopped.