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Blaine's Bulletin: Hope for the Terminally Ill

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Washington, June 1, 2018 | comments

For millions of Americans with terminal illnesses, every single day is life or death. Whether a grandparent, mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, friend, or coworker nearly every American has been touched by the realities of terminal illness. Each year, more than one million Americans die from it. This year, more than 600,000 Americans will lose the fight against cancer alone.

Last week, President Trump signed S. 204, the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017 into law. This important law gives patients and families who have exhausted all other options and are nearing hopelessness the ability to try experimental treatments that have not yet been approved by the FDA. These treatments represent their last hope for survival. I was a proud cosponsor of the House version of this legislation and vote in favor of it on the floor.

As President Trump said, “People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure — I want to give them a chance right here at home.” The Right to Try law will help terminally ill patients nationwide by creating a new alternative pathway for patients who do not qualify for a clinical trial, often due to being considered “too sick.”

While it is critical to provide these lifesaving treatments to patients, first and foremost this law ensures that robust patient protections are put in place. The law establishes necessary informed consent guidelines to access the unapproved drugs. It specifies that any unapproved drug used in the alternative pathway must not be the subject of a clinical hold and must have an active application. Manufacturers and sponsors must notify the FDA after they make an unapproved drug available to an eligible patient. Patients are also legally guarded from manufacturers purposefully misbranding or mislabeling any drugs provided.

Nationwide Right to Try legislation has been a long-time coming. With cooperation between President Trump, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, and FDA Commissioner Gottlieb, I have full faith that implementation of this important law will happen swiftly and safely.

The Right to Try Act removes bureaucratic red tape, gives patients the power to make their own healthcare choices, and gives them hope. In a true example of life or death legislation, I’m proud to have supported this bipartisan bill to ensure terminally ill patients in Missouri and across America have access to potentially lifesaving drugs and treatments.

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