Nebraska today became the 40th state to adopt Right to Try, protecting the right of terminally ill patients to try promising new treatments that are being safely used in clinical trials but are not yet widely available.
That’s great news for Nebraskans, but it also begs the question: If 40 states can take action on behalf of millions of Americans, why can’t Congress? Goldwater Institute president and CEO Victor Riches today asked that very question:
“This is another great win for patients’ rights. The question now is how many states have to pass this law before Congress does its part? Forty states—enough to amend the Constitution–have made it clear that this issue is critical for American patients. It’s time for the U.S. House and Senate to come together at the federal level so that the millions of Americans facing terminal diagnoses have access to new treatments.”
A federal Right to Try law passed the U.S. Senate unanimously in August; a separate Right to Try law passed the U.S. House in March. Because the House and Senate have passed different versions of the law, additional steps still need to be taken before the legislation makes it to the President’s desk for signature.
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, 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 state Right to Try laws are based and has been leading the national effort to pass the law in the remaining states and in Congress.
Right to Try is saving lives already. In Texas alone, Dr. Ebrahim Delpassand helped nearly 200 patients access a treatment for advanced stage neuroendocrine cancer that had completed clinical trials but was not yet fully approved. Many of these patients were told they had only months to live but are still alive years later, thanks to Right to Try. After a two and a half year wait, that drug recently received full approval by the FDA.