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Maine Becomes 27th State to Adopt Right To Try Law for Terminally Ill

March 31, 2016

Augusta, Maine—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 Governor Paul LePage. This makes Maine the 27th 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 Maine Right To Try Act was sponsored by a coalition of lawmakers led by Representative Thomas Longstaff and Senator Eric Brakey and it passed the state House and Senate with bipartisan support.

“I was pleased to be the lead sponsor of this legislation and to have bipartisan support for the initiative,” said Representative Longstaff. “While I understand why some people have reservations about the policy, it provides a real freedom of choice for people who are facing end of life decisions. It is time for them to have this freedom.”

“When someone is terminally ill, they are likely out of traditional options or close to it,” said Senator Brakey. “With Right-to-Try as the law of the land, patients have the ability to work with their doctors to determine if there is a treatment option available that may fit their needs. At that far stage of an illness, patients, doctors and families should be making decisions – not the government.”

Right To Try laws are already in place in 26 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West 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.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have both written 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 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.

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

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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