Trump signs ‘Right to Try’ bill sponsored by Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs
A U.S. House bill sponsored by Arizona Republican Andy Biggs that gives terminally ill people access to experimental drugs was signed into law by President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
The legislation, known as the “Right to Try” bill, allows patients with life-threatening conditions to use treatments that haven’t received Food and Drug Administration approval.
“There were no options. But now you have hope — you really have hope,” Trump said. He noted that “for many years, patients, advocates and lawmakers have fought for this fundamental freedom.”
The Senate passed its version of the bill in August. Biggs introduced it to the House in February, and it was approved by the House by a 250-169 vote last week.
“This is an enormous accomplishment that demonstrates the bipartisan efforts of members of Congress,” Biggs said in a news release when the bill passed May 22. “Our legislation will give significant hope to many Americans facing terminal illnesses.
It was an honor to be included in today’s signing ceremony with @SpeakerRyan to send #RightToTry to @POTUS @realDonaldTrump’s desk. I’m thankful for the perseverance of my colleagues and advocates of this policy to ensure its final passage. We all did it! #GiveThemHope pic.twitter.com/XjIIYoQWFc
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) May 24, 2018
Many Democrats said the measure was dangerous and would give patients false hope.
Trump had supported efforts to gain access to the treatments during his 2016 campaign. In his State of the Union address, the president said people who are terminally shouldn’t have to travel “from country to country to seek a cure.”
The measure would give people diagnosed with life-threatening conditions who have exhausted treatment options the ability to gain access to unproven drugs without first getting permission from the FDA.
New drugs normally undergo years of expensive testing before manufacturers seek and gain FDA approval to market them.
Opponents of the bill said it would empower “fly-by-night physicians” to offer false hope and ineffective drugs to patients who are desperate for treatment. They also said that the bill created the incorrect impression that the FDA serves as a bottleneck that deprives dying patients of unproven options.
FDA figures show it approves 99 percent of the roughly 1,000 requests it receives from doctors annually for so-called “compassionate use” of such treatments. The process generally takes about four days, but permission can be granted immediately by phone in emergencies.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.