Right To Try allows terminally ill Americans to try medicines that have passed Phase 1 of the FDA approval process and remain in clinical trials 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.


Q: What is the Right to Try Act?

A: Right To Try is legislation that allows terminally ill patients to access investigational treatments that have passed basic safety testing (Phase I) with the FDA, but are not yet available on pharmacy shelves. 

Q: Why was Right To Try developed?

A: Over 1 million Americans die from a terminal illness every year. Many spend years searching for a potential cure, or struggle in vain to get accepted into a clinical trial. Unfortunately, FDA red tape and government regulations restrict access to promising new treatments, and for those who do get access, it’s often too late. 

Q: Is Right To Try law in my state?

A: Right To Try has been signed into law in 40 states and counting: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. If your state is not listed, and you want to bring Right to Try to your state, click here to find out how.

Q: I have a terminal illness and live in a Right to Try state. What are my next steps?

A: You and your doctor should discuss best treatment options for your condition. If those options include a qualifying investigational drug your doctor believes is your best hope, he/she can initiate contact with that drug manufacturer’s compassionate use program director to discuss your options for access. View our sample letter here.  

Q: Some critics say Right to Try is just “feel good” legislation that won’t actually help anyone. Is this true?

A: No. Right To Try laws give people with terminal illnesses the legal right to use investigational medications years before they might otherwise be available on the market. No one can guarantee that a particular treatment will be effective, but these laws return choice and control over treatment options to where it is most effective: with patients and their doctors.  

Q: If patients can access investigational treatments by participating in clinical research trials, why do we need Right To Try?

A: Fewer than 3 percent of terminally ill patients gain access to investigational treatments through clinical trials. Right to Try was designed to help the other 97 percent.  

Q: The FDA has an expanded access program that allows patients quicker access to investigational treatments. How is Right To Try different?

A: While millions of Americans will be diagnosed with or die of terminal illnesses each year, compassionate use exceptions are only granted to about 1,200 patients a year. Many patients run out of time before they can qualify for the exemption or complete the process. Right To Try laws help patients get immediate access to the medical treatments they need before it’s too late.  

Q: Are treatments available under Right To Try safe?

A: Yes. The only treatments available under Right To Try laws are those that have already passed the FDA’s basic safety testing and remain within the FDA’s approval process. These are no different than the treatments currently available to the 3% of patients who are lucky enough to be accepted into clinical trials. 

Q:Do states have the power to enact Right To Try laws?

A: Yes. FDA regulations cannot preempt state laws that preserve constitutionally protected rights, such as the fundamental right to life and medical self-preservation. The United States Supreme Court has never addressed Right To Try specifically, but it has held that states have great latitude in regulating health and safety, including medical standards, which are primarily and historically a matter of local concern.