Originally posted in the September 2018 issue
There's no question about it: the new law sounds just great. President Donald Trump, who knows a thing or two about marketing, gushed about its name when he signed the “Right to Try” bill into law on May 30. He was surrounded by patients with incurable diseases, including a second grader with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, who got up from his small wheelchair to hug the president. The law aims to give such patients easier access to experimental drugs by bypassing the Food and Drug Administration.
The crowd-pleasing name and concept are why 40 states had already passed similar laws, although they were largely symbolic until the federal government got onboard. The laws vary but generally say that dying patients may seek from drugmakers any medicine that has passed a phase I trial—a minimal test of safety. “We're going to be saving tremendous numbers of lives,” Trump said. “The current FDA approval process can take many, many years. For countless patients, time is not what they have.”
But the new law won't do what the president claims. Instead it gives false hope to the most vulnerable patients. “This is a right to ask, not a right to try,” says Alison Bateman-House, a medical ethicist at New York University and an expert on the compassionate use of experimental drugs.
The info is here.