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In President Trump’s first State of the Union address, he challenged Congress to give people who are terminally ill immediate access to experimental treatments without going through the FDA. A number of states have already passed such “right-to-try” laws. The Senate has passed a federal version, and a revised version is now under consideration in the House, with a vote likely on Tuesday.

Backers of the right-to-try law would have you believe that the FDA is barring the distribution of all sorts of miracle cures. But many experimental treatments turn out to be totally ineffective. And as it stands, the FDA approves more than 99 percent of the thousand-plus applications it gets each year — usually within days of receiving the application — for access to experimental therapies through an existing program called expanded access or compassionate use.

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  • Your article doesn’t mention that it can take a physician up to 100 hours to ask the FDA for permission for expanded access/compassionate use. Few physicians are willing to spend that much time for a single patient. Even if the FDA ultimately approves the application, it can take months to do so, which is a long time for someone who is terminally ill. That’s why Right to Try is needed.

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