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New Hope for Patients: Goldwater Expands Right to Try in Nevada

June 13, 2023

Nearly 10 years ago, a tidal wave of patient-centric healthcare reform began to sweep America when Colorado became the first state to enact the Right to Try, a groundbreaking Goldwater Institute law that allowed terminally ill patients to seek potentially lifesaving treatments without begging the federal government for permission. Goldwater would go on to enact Right to Try in 40 more states and, in 2018, at the federal level. Now, a new wave of reform has begun as Nevada today became the second state to adopt Goldwater’s Right to Try for Individualized Treatments, which extends the Right to Try to cutting-edge, highly specialized treatments that are tailor-made for each individual.

“Americans should be free to exercise one of the most precious rights of all: the right to save one’s own life,” said Victor Riches, President and CEO of the Goldwater Institute. “Nevada’s landmark Right to Try expansion opens the door to innovative treatments that will save lives—and signals to the rest of the country that states don’t have to wait on the FDA to put patients first.”

The first Right to Try law, which protected terminally ill patients’ right to access investigational treatments advancing through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process, is saving lives in Nevada and around the country as pharmaceutical companies use Right to Try to treat entire groups of patients in promising new ways. But today, the latest innovations in medicine are made specifically for each patient, based on their genetics, and by definition cannot go through the FDA’s outdated regulatory processes in a timely manner. That’s why the Right to Try for Individualized Treatments (also known as Right to Try 2.0), which passed the Nevada Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan backing thanks to a groundswell of support from patient advocates, is the natural next step.

About 30 million Americans suffer from rare diseases for which there are no treatments or cures, and half of those are children. Nevada is home to countless people who are searching for hope, and Right to Try 2.0 helps get new innovations in medicine to the patients who need them the most.

Speaking directly to legislators, numerous patient advocates and medical professionals painted a clear picture of why Right to Try 2.0 is a critical reform.

Peter Kasama said his stage 4 cancer diagnosis became a “death sentence”—until personalized immunotherapy saved him. “This new technology saved my life. I was able to hit the hole in one,” he said.

“I never thought I would see my 50th birthday, and today I’m 51,” added Helen O’Hanlon, who has been battling ovarian cancer for more than 15 years. “I am an example of why it is so important that we support a bill like AB 188.”

The Riley family of Arizona, whose infant daughter Keira was diagnosed with a rare and fatal genetic brain disease, also exemplifies why Right to Try 2.0 is so urgently needed. A specialized type of gene therapy could help Keira, but it wasn’t available in the U.S. due to FDA restrictions, so the Rileys had to move to Italy to save baby Keira’s life. Keira has since turned 3 years old, and she shows no sign of the disease.

“It brings tears to my eyes thinking of all the other special needs families out there who have always held on to hope for a chance like this,” Keira’s mom, Kendra, testified before Arizona became the first state to enact Right to Try 2.0.

Nevada and Arizona aren’t alone in pursuing this important reform. Texas and Iowa have both introduced measures to adopt this Right to Try expansion in 2023, and more states are expected to follow suit as critically ill patients around the country desperately seek new hope.

That’s exactly what Right to Try 2.0 offers: A chance at hope. A chance at healing. A chance at life.

Read more Right to Try success stories here. Find out more about Right to Try 2.0 here.



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