LIFE MATERS MEDIA STAFF
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan expressed strong support for the so-called “right to try” bill making its way through Congress.
Ryan, the nation’s third-highest ranking Republican, told the Kenosha News he is “a big fan” of the controversial bill championed by fellow Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.
“We’re going to move his bill. I’m a big fan of his bill. We’re working on getting it through the House,” Ryan told the local newspaper on Friday.
Earlier this summer, the Senate passed it by unanimous consent.
The bill would make it much easier for seriously and terminally ill patients to access experimental treatments that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
These vulnerable patients are often unable to participate in clinical trials and have little chance of being cured.
Currently, drug companies allow some patients access to new drugs outside of clinical trials under a program known as compassionate use – as long as the FDA approves such requests.
Although the FDA approves the vast majority of compassionate use requests, sometimes companies refuse, fearing that negative results could be used against them by the government or patients injured by their products.
Johnson’s “right to try” bill would establish national guidelines for such drugs. It would also offer additional protections to pharmaceutical companies and doctors in all 50 states. Eligible patients must exhaust all other treatment options and be unable to participate in ongoing clinical trials.
However, opponents of the bill are deeply concerned it will deter patients from seeking hospice care and give them false hope.
“Let them try. Let them make their decision. If there is some drug that’s being tested that hasn’t been yet approved and you’re at the end of your rope, let them try. Good grief, why not?”
Public Citizen, a public advocacy organization, and 17 other groups sent a letter to Congress urging them to oppose legislation they refer to as the “False Hope Act of 2017.”
“We are concerned that false-hope legislation like S. 204 would put countless patients at risk by dramatically undermining the FDA’s role in ensuring that medical products are safe and effective before they become widely used. Such legislation would expose vulnerable patients to risks of serious harm, including dying earlier and more painfully than they otherwise would have, without appropriate safeguards,” the statement reads.