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California Becomes 32nd State to Adopt Right To Try Law for Terminally Ill

September 28, 2016

Sacramento—A law giving 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 Governor Jerry Brown. This makes California the 32nd state to adopt a “Right To Try” law. Right To Try allows doctors to treat terminally ill patients with medicines being safely used in clinical trials.

The California Right To Try Act, Assembly Bill 1668, was sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, and it passed the state House and Senate with nearly unanimous bipartisan support. A similar bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support last year and was vetoed by Governor Brown. 

“I would like to thank Governor Brown for his efforts and support in giving terminally ill patients a right to hope – and a right to try and save their own lives,” stated Majority Leader Calderon. “Terminally ill patients in our state will finally have access to potentially life-saving treatments. I am grateful to the Governor for making this a reality.”

Right To Try laws have been adopted in 31 other states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

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 and saving lives 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 1,200 people a year receive help. Others die while waiting on their approval.

“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 approved 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.   

Follow progress of the national Right To Try movement on Facebook or at

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.



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