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Hawaii Gov. Ige Vetoes Right To Try Bill; Denies Terminally Ill Access to Potentially Lifesaving Drugs

May 4, 2016

Honolulu—Governor David Ige has vetoed the Hawaii Right To Try Act, SB 2181, even though it passed both the state House and Senate with unanimous bipartisan support. The law would have allowed doctors to prescribe treatments for the terminally ill that are being safely used in clinical trials, but have not yet been fully approved by the FDA. With Gov. Ige’s veto, patients will continue to be denied immediate access to potentially lifesaving drugs―with many having little time left to wait.    

“Governor Ige’s veto message puts trust in the FDA to reform its processes when it has shown itself incapable of doing so,” said Darcy Olsen, the president of the Goldwater Institute, the organization leading the national, bipartisan Right To Try movement. “This veto deprives every resident of Hawaii the very personal right to try to save their own lives―a right recognized now by 28 other Democratic and Republican governors.”

Right To Try laws have been adopted in 28 other states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

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. The last time the agency overhauled its policies granting the sick and dying access to investigational treatments was in the 1980s at the height of the AIDS crisis.

“Americans are united in the belief that when your mortality hangs in the balance, you should have the right to try to save your life. Gov. Ige’s veto won’t be the last word on this critical issue,” said Olsen.

Over the past year, the Goldwater Institute has successfully used Right To Try to remove the bureaucratic red tape that terminally ill patients have had to navigate in order to access safe drugs that are not fully approved.

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 who 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 ongoing 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.


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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