Boise, ID—A law to give terminally ill patients access to medicines that have passed Phase 1 of the FDA approval process but are not yet on pharmacy shelves has been signed by Idaho Governor Butch Otter. This makes Idaho the 25th state in two years that has adopted a “Right To Try” law. Right To Try allows doctors to prescribe to terminally ill patients medicines being safely used in clinical trials.
The Idaho Right To Try Act, HB 481, was sponsored by Democratic State Representative Melissa Wintrow and it passed the state House and Senate with bipartisan, near unanimous support.
“It was my honor to carry a bill brought to me by two constituents, Dr. James Quinn, a research physician and John Knudsen, a former Alaska State trouper who was diagnosed with ALS some years ago,” said Rep. Wintrow. “This bill will be their legacy—providing others a right to try to save their own lives. The bill received almost unanimous support in both Houses. It feels good to partner with citizens, national organizations, and colleagues from across the aisle to create policy that will make our state a better place.”
Right To Try laws are already in place in 24 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming. The law is under consideration in a dozen additional states this year. The national bipartisan effort to give terminally ill Americans access to investigational medications is being led by the Goldwater Institute.
“Millions of Americans are dying this year from terminal illnesses for which there are treatments and cures. About 40,000 women with breast cancer will hear from their doctor this year that there are no treatment options left. But there are 22 pioneering breast cancer treatments waiting for the FDA's green light; some of them are already available in Europe,” said Darcy Olsen, President and CEO of the Goldwater Institute.
The FDA has a process that allows people to ask permission to access investigational medicines, but only approximately 1,000 people a year receive help. Others die while waiting on their approval. More than a year ago the FDA announced plans to shorten the application form, but the shorter form is still not available.
“We’ve all known someone who has suffered from a terminal illness. This law is common sense. When you are fighting for your life, you shouldn’t have to fight the government too,” said Olsen.
Right To Try is limited to patients with a terminal disease that have exhausted all conventional treatment options and cannot enroll in a clinical trial. All medications available under the law must have successfully completed basic safety testing and be part of the FDA’s on-going approval process.
Read more about the bureaucratic structure of the FDA that keeps promising treatments out of the hands of terminal patients in this Goldwater Institute report, Dead on Arrival.
About the Goldwater Institute
The Goldwater Institute drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater’s home state of Arizona. Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real world impact. No less a liberal icon than the New York Times calls the Goldwater Institute a “watchdog for conservative ideals” that plays an “outsize role” in American political life.