Cleveland—On the first day of business at the 2016 Republican National Convention, party delegates adopted a new official party platform that includes language supporting laws that give terminally ill Americans the right to access drugs that are being safely used in clinical trials but are not yet on pharmacy shelves. These “Right To Try” laws give terminal patients access to potentially life-saving drugs years before they would otherwise have them.
Thirty-one states have adopted Right To Try laws and bills are pending in the U.S. House and Senate to protect the state-passed law from interference by federal agencies. Twenty-seven co-sponsors have signed onto the Senate legislation; and the House bill has bipartisan support from 55 co-sponsors. Right To Try is an overwhelmingly bipartisan idea. In two-thirds of the states where it has passed, it has passed with unanimous support in both legislative chambers; it has been sponsored in a dozen states by only Democratic lawmakers, but it is most-often sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers; and it has been signed into law by seven Democratic and 24 Republican governors. Arizona voters adopted Right To Try by ballot in 2014 with nearly 80 percent of the vote.
The amendment to the Republican platform was proposed by Maine State Senator Eric Brakey, the sponsor of the Right To Try bill in his home state. The new platform language is:
"We commend those states that have passed Right to Try legislation, allowing terminally ill patients the right to try investigational medicines not yet approved by the FDA. We urge Congress to pass similar legislation, giving all Americans with terminal illnesses the right to try.”
The national campaign for Right To Try laws is led by the Goldwater Institute. Learn more about Right To Try at http://righttotry.org/.