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The Senate unanimously approved a bill Thursday that would allow people facing life-threatening diseases access to unapproved experimental drugs, providing a victory for libertarian advocates who see government regulators thwarting patients’ rights.
The bill, S. 204 (115), passed swiftly and easily in a Senate bitterly divided over health care. The powerful pharmaceutical lobby, which had quietly opposed an earlier version, kept an unusually low profile. The industry has been focused on fighting off any efforts to go after drug pricing, which President Donald Trump has said he would tackle.
The bill’s chief champion, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), declared it a victory for individual liberty over government, and for “the right to hope.” It’s also been championed by the libertarian Goldwater Institute, and Vice President Mike Pence, who tweeted that it gives patients “hope & a chance.”
The legislation would allow patients with serious diseases — anything from a late-stage cancer to multiple sclerosis — to request access to experimental drugs directly from drug companies without having to go through the FDA, which has its own compassionate use program that approves 99 percent of requests.
But the right-to-try bill doesn’t require drugmakers to make the experimental treatments available. In the 37 states that have similar laws on the books, Goldwater can point to only one doctor who says he has utilized a state right-to-try law for a patient — and that medicine was being made available to certain patients by the FDA anyway.
More at: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/03/libertarians-score-big-victory-drug-bill-241314