“Today, we have given new hope to Americans struggling with a terminal illness,” said Victor Riches, president & CEO of the Goldwater Institute, the organization that crafted the policy and led the national effort to adopt the law. “Federal law now protects the right of dying patients to obtain and use cutting-edge medicines without asking first for government permission.”
The U.S. House and Senate passed S. 204, the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act, with bipartisan majorities. The House effort was led by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). The Senate effort was led by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN).
“There is no worse feeling in the world than knowing you’re going to die with no freedom to try medicines or drugs that might actually save you,” said Tim Wendler, who lost his wife Trickett to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) three years ago. “We spent the last three years telling Trickett’s story, trying to explain how important it is to provide hope and freedom to everyone, especially those with terminal diseases. This week was very emotional for our family and every patient and their family who has worked on this bill. We watched the floor debate and vote live, and once it passed there was not a dry eye in the house. Trickett passed away prior to being able to take advantage of the bill, but she would be so grateful that from this moment forward, patients and families faced with a terminal diagnosis will never again be without hope.”
“Jordan and I are grateful to see Right to Try signed into law today. During our more than three-year fight for patients to have this right, Jordan was accepted into a clinical trial for a drug we believe is slowing the progression of his fatal disease,” said Laura McLinn, whose 9-year-old son Jordan has fatal Duchenne muscular dystrophy. “We continued to fight for Right to Try for terminally ill patients who aren’t in that ‘lucky 3 percent’ of the patient population who make it into trials. We believe all terminally ill patients should have this right and today our hearts celebrate this becoming the law!”
Right to Try laws have also been adopted with strong bipartisan support in 40 states. 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, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The Goldwater Institute crafted the policy upon which all 40 state Right to Try laws are based and has been leading the national effort to pass the laws in the states and in Congress.
Right to Try is saving lives already. In Texas alone, Dr. Ebrahim Delpassand helped nearly 200 patients under his state law, providing a treatment that has completed clinical trials but was not yet fully approved for advanced stage neuroendocrine cancer. Many of these patients were told they had only months to live but are still alive a year later, thanks to Right to Try. After a two-and-a-half-year wait, that drug recently received full approval by the FDA.