Bill would increase access to potentially lifesaving treatment, care
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) and Andy Biggs (AZ-05) introduced the Right to Try Act of 2017 Monday, legislation which would ensure that terminally ill patients, together with their physicians, and pharmaceutical manufacturers are allowed to administer investigational treatments where no alternative exists. The bill is a companion to Senate legislation (S. 204) introduced by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) in January.
“Each day, families across the country receive the devastating news of a terminal diagnosis. Even with the amazing work done in American medical research and development, for too many, access to these potentially lifesaving treatments will come too late, or not at all. The Right to Try Act opens the opportunity to trial-stage care and establishes the freedom for patients and their doctors to try therapies where the benefits far outweigh the risks,” said Fitzpatrick. “Americans – our constituents – should have every opportunity to fight for their life, or the life of their loved one. Whether it’s a father courageously battling ALS or a brave child living with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy, they deserve the right to try.”
“In November 2014, Arizonans passed a state version of Right to Try with nearly 80 percent of the vote, which demonstrates that giving patients access to a potentially life-saving drugs has strong bipartisan support,” Biggs said. “Right to Try now needs to be enacted at the federal level. Americans facing a terminal illness should be allowed to try all options that could save their lives, and our bill will give power to those patients. I am grateful for Congressman Fitzpatrick’s partnership on this vital issue, and I look forward to working with him to pass this legislation in the House.”
The Right to Try Act of 2017 does not undo the FDA approval process, but provides a potential lifeline for those with a terminal diagnosis who cannot wait. Physicians must certify that other options are exhausted or not available and all products must have completed FDA Phase I (safety) testing to prevents “snake oil salesmen” and other bad actors. Moreover, the legislation addresses concerns which could prevent its successful utilization by ensuring patients, doctors, and manufacturers do not assume any additional liability under this act.
Currently, 33 states have signed into law their own Right to Try legislation; Pennsylvania does not. Fitzpatrick’s bill ensures that the federal government - and the FDA, specifically - do not interfere with state laws.
From ALS to Duchene Muscular Dystrophy, over one million American die from a terminal disease each year and thousands more are diagnosed. However, current ‘compassionate-use exceptions’ are only granted to about 1,000 patients annually. Many patients simply run out of time before they can qualify or before the FDA’s approval process completes. The Right to Try Act would allow for potentially life-saving access to care.
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick is serving his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives and is a member of the Homeland Security, Foreign Affairs & Small Business committees. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th District which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He is a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
Congressman Andy Biggs is a first-term Representative from Arizona’s Fifth Congressional District, representing parts of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Sun Lakes, and Queen Creek. Congressman Biggs is a member of the House Judiciary and Science, Space and Technology committees, and is the chairman of the Environment Subcommittee. He lives with his wife Cindy in Gilbert.