March 14, 2018
Earlier today, the U.S. House narrowly failed to advance federal legislation to protect the right of terminally ill patients to try investigational medicines that have not yet received full approval from the FDA. While a majority of House members voted for the Right to Try, this vote required approval of a super-majority to bring the legislation directly out of committee.
Victor Riches, president of the Goldwater Institute, says that while today’s vote was disappointing, the movement to protect patients will continue:
“Unfortunately, scare tactics, falsehoods, and innuendo won the day. We are extremely disappointed that some members of Congress chose to make this bipartisan grassroots movement partisan.
“When the federal government fails, states can step in to protect patients. That’s how this movement started and that’s how it will continue. States will continue to step up to protect terminally ill patients. And the patients, doctors, and policymakers who have fought for this law across the country aren’t giving up.
“Thirty-eight states now protect your Right to Try, and a similar law awaits the signature of Wisconsin’s governor. Cancer patients from across the country are alive only because they could access life-saving medicine through the Right to Try as protected by those states, not by Washington. This effort is not over.”
Matthew Bellina, one of the patients for whom the bill is named, said the following as members were gathering on the floor to vote:
I have had ALS too long to meet the inclusion criteria for any promising trials. No drug companies will offer me treatments under the current FDA Expanded Access Program guidelines. Two reputable companies have already indicated that they would try to treat me under the rules of this bill. A vote against this is essentially a vote to kill me. It is a vote to make my wife a widow and leave my boys fatherless. I can’t stop anyone from voting that way but please ask them to have the respect to look my family in the eye when they cast their vote.