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Utah Governor Gary Herbert Signs Right To Try Bill Into Law

March 25, 2015

Salt Lake City—Today Governor Gary Herbert signed HB 0094—the Utah Right To Try Act—into law. This makes Utah the tenth state to adopt Right To Try. Right To Try allows terminally ill Americans to try medicines that have passed Phase 1 of the FDA approval process but are not yet on pharmacy shelves. Right To Try expands access to potentially life-saving treatments years before patients would normally be able to access them.

“We all know the pain of losing someone we love to a terminal illness,” said Darcy Olsen, the president of the Goldwater Institute, the group leading the national, bipartisan Right To Try effort.  “If you know there’s a treatment that is helping people survive, who is anyone to say ‘No; you don’t have the right to try to save your own life or to save your child’s life’? Of course you do. Of course people should have the right to try promising medicines when they are fighting for their lives.”

Right To Try laws are already in place in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Twenty-five additional states are considering the law this year. Lawmakers in Mississippi, Montana, and Virginia have sent similar bills to their governors for approval.

The FDA has a process that allows individual patients 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 lipstick on a pig, window dressing for an inhumane system that prevents the vast majority of Americans with terminal illnesses from accessing promising investigational treatments. Compassionate use should be the rule for everyone, not the exception,” said Olsen.

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

Utah State Representative Gage Froerer sponsored the Right To Try legislation. Jonathan Johnson, chairman of Utah-based Overstock.com, recently announced plans to establish a foundation that will help people afford investigational medications not covered by health insurance.

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.

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