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California Lawmakers Send Right To Try Act to Governor Brown

September 3, 2015

Sacramento—A law to give terminally ill patients access to medicines that have passed Phase 1 of the FDA approval process but are not yet approved for pharmacy shelves has passed the state Assembly and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. Right To Try allows doctors to prescribe to terminally ill patients medicines being used in clinical trials. Governor Jerry Brown has 12 days to sign or veto the bill once it reaches his desk.

AB 159—The California Right To Try Act—was sponsored by Assembly Member Ian Calderon, a Democrat representing communities east of Los Angeles. A similar bill was offered in the Senate by Senator Jeff Stone, a Republican from San Diego County.

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 legislation has been introduced in a dozen other states this year. The national bipartisan effort to give terminally ill Americans access to investigational medications is being led by the Goldwater Institute.

“Americans shouldn’t have to ask the government for permission to try to save their own lives,” said Darcy Olsen, president of the Goldwater Institute. “They should be able to work with their doctors directly to decide what potentially life-saving treatments they are willing to try. This is exactly what Right To Try does—it removes barriers that limit medical practitioners from providing care they are trained to give.”

One of the supporters of the Right To Try Act who testified before legislative committees about the bill, David Huntley, a former San Diego State professor, passed away just weeks ago. He was an ALS patient who wanted to try GM 604, a drug in development by a Pasadena-based company that has shown significant results in slowing the progression of the disease.

The FDA has a process that allows people to ask permission to access investigational medicines, but fewer than 1,000 people a year receive help. Others die while waiting on their approval. The FDA recently announced plans to shorten the application form. “A simpler form is window dressing on an inhumane system that prevents the vast majority of Americans with terminal illnesses from accessing promising investigational treatments. Patients must still beg the federal government for permission to try to save their own lives—it’s just a shorter form,” said Olsen.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have both reported that the Right To Try movement is prompting long overdue change at the FDA.

Right To Try is limited to patients with a terminal disease that have exhausted all government-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.

“Governor Brown has the opportunity to help thousands of Californians who need access to treatments today. The sooner he signs, the sooner they can start working with their doctors on accessing new medications,” said Olsen.

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

The Goldwater Institute has teamed up with an Indiana mother on a Change.org petition in support of Right To Try that has gathered more than 100,000 signatures.

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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.

 

 

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