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House Sends 'Right-to-Try' Bill to Trump's Desk

By Steven Porter  
   May 22, 2018

  • Some patient groups, ethicists oppose: A long list of patient advocacy groups and medical ethicists has voiced opposition to the right-to-try proposals, arguing that it could put patients at greater risk. "If we take the FDA out of it, how do we protect people from physicians or drug companies that will want to sell them things and will want to prey on their desperation?" Dr. R. Adams Dudley, director of the Center for Healthcare Value at University of California, San Francisco, told Kaiser Health News in March.
  • Most states have right-to-try laws: In a letter signed by 40 fellow members in February, Republican Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania argued a federal law is needed because laws on the books in 38 states are being preempted by federal policy.
  • Some governors support: A group of nine governors, led by New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, sent a letter to Congress, urging lawmakers to enact right-to-try on the federal level. "Gridlock in Washington remains the only barrier standing between terminally ill patients and the hope they both need and deserve," the governors wrote, as the New Hampshire Union Leader reported.
  • Not just for terminally ill: Although some right-to-try proposals have applied to "terminally ill" patients, this version applies to those who have been "diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or condition," which critics have argued is a significanlty broader definition.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois was among a menagerie of Democrats warning the right-to-try bill would make it easier for bad actors to take advantage of seriously ill patients.

"This gives open license to snake oil salesmen," Schakowsky said during debate Tuesday afternoon. "Why should we put more patients at risk when the current process does work?"

Editor's note: This story was updated Wednesday, May 23, 2018, with additional information, including a statement from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

—Steven Porter is an associate content manager and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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