Laws Spreading That Allow Terminally Ill Access to Experimental Drugs

Arizona voters recently approved a referendum that allows terminally ill patients to receive experimental drugs and devices. It’s the fifth state to approve a “right-to-try” law this year. Supporters say the laws give dying patients faster access to potentially life-saving therapies than the Food and Drug Administration’s existing “expanded-access” program, often referred to as “compassionate use.” The legislatures in Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, and Missouri also passed right-to-try laws this year as part of a nationwide effort spearheaded by the conservative Goldwater Institute, which hopes to get right-to-try laws on the books in all 50 states. The measures generally permit a patient to get access to an experimental drug after it’s passed through phase 1 of a clinical trial, the initial testing in which a drug is given to a small group of people to evaluate its safety and side effects.

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