California Lawmakers Send Right To Try Act to Governor Brown for Second Year
Sacramento—A law to give terminally ill patients access to medicines that have passed Phase 1 of the FDA approval process but are not yet approved for wider use has passed the state Assembly and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. This “Right To Try” law allows doctors to prescribe to terminally ill patients medicines being safely used in clinical trials.
AB 1668—The California Right to Try Act—is sponsored by Assembly Member Ian Calderon, a Democrat representing communities east of Los Angeles. The Assembly and Senate passed a nearly identical bill last year almost unanimously, also sponsored by Calderon, but it Governor Brown vetoed the bill.
Right To Try laws are already in place in 31 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The legislation has been introduced in all but one of the 50 states in the past two years. The national bipartisan effort to give terminally ill Americans access to investigational medications is being led by the Goldwater Institute.
“Americans shouldn’t have to ask the government for permission to try to save their own lives,” said Darcy Olsen, president of the Goldwater Institute. “They should be able to work with their doctors directly to decide what potentially life-saving treatments they are willing to try. This is exactly what Right To Try does—it removes barriers that limit medical practitioners from providing care they are trained to give.”
The FDA has a process that allows people to ask permission to access investigational medicines, but only approximately 1,200 people a year receive help. Others die while waiting on their approval. Governor Brown’s veto message last year said he wanted to give the FDA a chance to reform its compassionate use process to make it easier for families to navigate. Since then, the FDA’s only change has been to shorten the application form—no steps in the process have been eliminated or approval time frame shortened.
Right To Try is limited to patients with a terminal disease that have exhausted all government-approved 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.
“‘Right to Try’ legislation is already in place in 31 states,” stated Majority Leader Ian Calderon. “This is an issue that has received strong bipartisan support in the Legislature and throughout the nation. It’s time we allow Californians the right to try and save their own lives.”