by Rachel McPherson

Crafted by the Goldwater Institute, Right to Try was signed into federal law by President Trump last week. The legislation allows terminally ill patients to pursue treatments not yet fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but still remain in clinical trials. Patients qualify for Right to Try by having their doctor certify that they are terminally ill and all options have been exhausted.

As attention turns from the passage of federal Right to Try legislation to its implementation, Goldwater Institute Senior Policy Advisor Starlee Coleman joined C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this past weekend to discuss how Right to Try works:

“It is totally voluntary. What it does is for a patient that is fully informed of the risk, for a doctor and drug company that agree that their treatment could be a good fit for that person, it allows the three of them to make that decision together without giving the federal government a veto over someone’s personal decision. If it’s not the right fit for a patient, they don’t have to do it.”

Right to Try gives terminally ill patients access to treatments they otherwise would not be able to have. It opens up potential new avenues for treatment for those who don’t qualify for clinical trials: Such trials only accept a limited number of patients to test drugs, often leaving people who are either “too sick” or “not sick enough” to fend for themselves. These patients have the opportunity to explore treatment options and possibly extend their lives—an opportunity that some people have left the United States to pursue. Starlee discussed the challenges that patients face when they cannot access treatments at home:

“There are often treatments in clinical trials in the United States that have been approved in other countries and are widely available. Patients are spending their time and financial resources traveling to other countries to try to get access to treatments they should be able to get at home.”

Arizona teenager Diego Morris was one of those patients: When he was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer at the age of 10, he and his family moved to London for a year so he could be treated with a drug approved for usage in England but not in the United States. Today, Diego is cancer-free. He’s also a big supporter of Right to Try—so patients can be closer to their homes and families while they undergo treatment.

In addition to Starlee’s appearance on Washington Journal, Goldwater Institute experts have been talking Right to Try on outlets across the country this week:

You can check out each of these appearances by clicking on the links above.

Rachel McPherson is a Ronald Reagan Fellow at the Goldwater Institute.