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Week in Review: New Hope for Brain Cancer Patients Thanks to Right to Try

October 5, 2019

Americans suffering from a deadly form of brain cancer have new hope today, thanks to a first-of-its-kind treatment program offered under the federal Right to Try law—a policy developed by the Goldwater Institute.

An anti-cancer vaccine known as Gliovac (ERC1671) will be made available to patients suffering from glioblastoma, a rare and fatal cancer with a devastating five-year survival rate of about five percent. Since the treatment has not received final approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), patients ordinarily would not be able to access the potentially lifesaving vaccine without being selected for a clinical trial or making a request through the FDA’s burdensome and time-consuming “compassionate use” program. However, thanks to the recently enacted federal Right to Try law, Epitopoietic Research Corporation (ERC), the vaccine’s manufacturer, has announced a program offering Gliovac to patients who meet certain eligibility requirements.

Under Right to Try, a policy developed by the Goldwater Institute, patients who are terminal or facing life-threatening illness and who have exhausted other treatment options may, with their physician’s approval, seek investigational treatments that are safe enough to be used in clinical trials but remain under clinical evaluation for final FDA approval. As Goldwater Director of Healthcare Policy Naomi Lopez writes in a new In Defense of Liberty blog post, ERC’s announcement of a formal Right to Try program is “not only great news for terminal patients—it also points to a more positive future for treatment innovations.”

“Certificate of Greed” Hurts North Carolina Patients

Dr. Gajendra Singh has a goal: to deliver quality healthcare services at lower costs to his patients. That’s why he founded Forsyth Imaging Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 2017—to provide medical imaging services like x-rays, ultrasounds, and MRI scans at a fraction of the prices charged by hospitals and other competitors. But under North Carolina’s certificate of need law, licensed healthcare providers like Dr. Singh are prohibited from offering any “new institutional health service” without permission from the state.

Our friends at the Institute for Justice have filed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s certificate of need law law as a violation of the state Constitution’s Anti-Monopoly Clause, and earlier this week, the Goldwater Institute filed a brief in support of Dr. Singh.

Certificate of need hurts patients not just in North Carolina, but also the many other states where similar laws are on the books—in these places, patients often go without the treatment they need because there are not enough care facilities to meet demand. The Goldwater Institute recently put the spotlight on this problem in a new documentary video, showing how certificate of need has been harmful to mental health patients in Iowa.

Supreme Court Should Step In on Donor Privacy Case

Donor privacy is under attack in cities and states across the country, and now the U.S. Supreme Court has a new opportunity to protect identities of people who support nonprofits —and it’s an opportunity the Court should definitely take, writes Goldwater Institute Senior Attorney Matt Miller.

Goldwater has filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to take up a case brought by the Thomas More Law Center, which is asking the Court to decide whether the state of California is entitled to a list of the group’s top donors. As Miller writes in his new blog post, “With ideological harassment and ‘cancel culture’ on the rise, nonprofit donors have more reasons than ever to be concerned about being put on a government list.”

We write in our brief, “Not only does the trend of forcing organizations to disclose confidential donor information chill the free speech rights of both these individuals and these organizations, but it also exacerbates the dangerously undemocratic tendency to short-circuit debate over the merits of public policy proposals, and to focus instead on personal animosities and personal demonization rather than persuasion.” The idea that nonprofit donors could be subjected to harassment or intimidation just for engaging in the political process isn’t hypothetical—it’s real. And the Goldwater Institute is acting to protect these donors’ right to speak up both in this case and also in litigation in New Mexico and Colorado.



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