WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), co-chair of the ALS Caucus, released a statement Wednesday demanding that the Right to Try Act of 2017 [S.204], which passed the Senate last year, be brought to the House Floor for immediate consideration. Fitzpatrick will meet with House leadership on Thursday to appeal for action on ‘Right to Try’:

“Every day millions of Americans and their families face the devastating reality of a terminal diagnosis. Even with the amazing achievements in American medical research and development, access to potentially lifesaving treatment will come too late, or not at all. The Right to Try Act would establish the freedom for patients to try therapies in situations where the benefits far outweigh the risks. Both chambers of Congress demonstrated that the ‘Right to Try’ can pass with bipartisan support. My constituent, Matt Bellina, and the thousands of Americans like him are running out of time. I urge the U.S. House of Representatives to immediately consider and vote on Senator Johnson’s Right to Try Act. It’s time to send this bill to the President’s desk.”

Last year, the Senate unanimously passed The Right to Try Act of 2017 [S.204]. Following months of negotiating and legislative efforts, the House passed a slightly different version of the Right to Try in March 2018.  

After the House passed its version of Right to Try, Fitzpatrick said, “I stand with my colleagues at the forefront of this issue, Representative Biggs and Senator Johnson, in demanding that Right to Try – in any form – make it to the president’s desk to be signed into law.”

From ALS to Duchene Muscular Dystrophy, over one million Americans die from a terminal disease each year and thousands more are diagnosed. While ‘compassionate-use exceptions’ exist, they 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. Right to Try allows for potentially life-saving access to care.

Right to Try 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 prevent “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. Nearly 40 states, including Pennsylvania, have signed into law their own Right to Try legislation. The federal legislation ensures that the federal government - and the FDA, specifically - does not interfere with state laws.

Advancing this policy has been a long-time priority for Fitzpatrick and Vice President Pence, who signed Indiana’s Right to Try law while serving as governor. It has also been a priority for President Trump, who called for the bill’s passage in his State of the Union Address earlier this year.