Wisconsin Becomes 39th State to Adopt Right to Try Law

Governor Walker signs law to help terminally ill


Contact: Starlee Coleman, scoleman@goldwaterinstitute.org


Madison, WI—Governor Scott Walker has signed the Wisconsin Right to Try Act, a law that protects the rights of terminally ill patients to try promising new treatments that are being safely used in clinical trials but are not yet widely available. SB 84 had broad bipartisan support in the State House and Senate and was sponsored by Senator Terry Moulton and Representatives Patrick Snyder and Joel Kleefisch.


“Hope springs eternal, and now in Wisconsin those fighting a terminal illness have options for trying new treatments to save their own life,” said Juran Cook, a registered nurse from Wisconsin who lost her husband, Mitchell, to ALS while waiting on a promising treatment to begin clinical trials.


Right to Try opens new possibilities for treatment to terminal patients who meet certain criteria. Patients must be diagnosed as terminal, they must have exhausted all approved treatment options, they must be unable to participate in a clinical trial. If a patient meets those criteria, they and their physician can work directly with a drug company to access a promising investigational treatment that has passed FDA safety testing and is being safely used in clinical trials. The only treatments available to terminal patients under Right to Try are those that are in ongoing FDA-approved and monitored clinical trials.


Fifteen year old Wisconsin resident Tealyn Wendler, who lost her mom to ALS, said, “Though this bill passing has been a long journey, it has been worth the wait. Words cannot express how proud I am and how proud my mom would be. Thank you to everyone that has been involved in this fight for the thousands of families that are dealing with terminal illness.” Tanner Wendler, age 12, said “Right to Try bill is a bill that should be passed in every state. It is a bill that might save lives. I believe that passing this bill is going to save lives.” Ten year old Torynn Wendler added that she hopes this puts us “one step closer to finding and giving ALS patients the hope for a cure.”


Right to Try was first enacted in Colorado in 2014. Four years later, Right to Try is law in: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The Goldwater Institute crafted the policy upon which all state Right to Try laws are based and has been leading the national effort to pass the laws in the states and in Congress.


A federal Right to Try law, sponsored by Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, passed the U.S. Senate unanimously last August. A separate Right to Try law passed the U.S. House last week. Because the House and Senate have passed different versions of the law, additional steps will still need to be taken before the legislation makes it to the President’s desk for signature.


“The Right to Try movement started in the states, and states are continuing to push ahead to protect patients’ rights” said Christina Sandefur, executive vice president of the Goldwater Institute. “We’re not waiting on Washington to get this life-saving legislation on the books so that as many patients can benefit as possible.”


Right to Try is saving lives already. Dr. Ebrahim Delpassand, for example, helped nearly 200 patients from around the country access a treatment for advanced stage neuroendocrine cancer that had completed clinical trials but was not yet fully approved. Many of these patients were told they had only months to live but are still alive years later, thanks to Right to Try. After a two and a half year wait, that drug recently received full approval by the FDA.


Read more about Right to Try here and follow the movement on Facebook and Twitter.



About the Goldwater Institute

The Goldwater Institute drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater’s home state of Arizona. Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real world impact. No less a liberal icon than the New York Times calls the Goldwater Institute a “watchdog for conservative ideals” that plays an “outsize role” in American political life.