Texas Doctor Using Right To Try Law to Treat Cancer Patients

Meet the Texas doctor using Right To Try to treat cancer patients.

Washington, D.C.— A promising lifesaving treatment is now available to patients suffering from terminal neuroendocrine carcinoid cancers—a deadly type of cancer that gained attention in 2011 when Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs died from it. In testimony before the U.S. Senate, Houston-based oncologist Dr. Ebrahim Delpassand announced that he has successfully treated 78 terminally ill cancer patients under Texas’s “Right To Try” law. Now on the books in 31 states, Right to Try laws give terminally ill patients the right to try to save their lives with investigational medicines that are under study, but not yet approved, by the FDA.

The treatment has been widely available in European countries for more than 15 years, and has successfully completed FDA clinical trials but the treatment still awaits the FDA’s green light. As a result, it has only been available to a small number of Americans who could travel overseas for treatment or were able to participate in clinical trials.

Dr. Delpassand administered a successful 150-patient clinical trial for the therapy for five years. In 2015, after the final trial phase was completed, the FDA devastated desperate patients by refusing to allow him to continue treating patients until the drug received the agency’s final approval. But a few months later, Texas lawmakers adopted a Right To Try law, giving patients a new avenue to access this effective therapy.

“Many of these patients were only given three to six months to live,” said Dr. Delpassand. “Now, a year later, many of them are still alive.”

So far, thirty-one states have adopted Right To Try laws, including Texas, Florida, and Illinois. Today’s announcement was made during a U.S. Senate hearing on S. 2912, the Trickett Wendler Right To Try Act, which would protect the state-passed Right To Try laws.

Developing lifesaving medicines in the U.S. can cost as much as $2 billion and take decades to be approved for sale. As a result, many patients die waiting for these lifesaving treatments to come to market.  Approximately 1,000 patients a year obtain “Compassionate Use” waivers to access those medicines.