WASHINGTON — One of the namesakes of the federal “right-to-try” law confirmed Tuesday that he gained access to an experimental treatment thanks to the new law.

Matt Bellina, who has ALS, thanked the drug company BrainStorm for providing the treatment on Facebook.

“Many of you read last June that Brainstorm would be treating me with the experimental treatment of [NurOwn] under the new federal Right to Try law. Today I want to thank the company and CEO Chaim Lebovitz for following through and keeping their word.”


While the announcement was quickly lauded by right to try advocates, it does little to bring the majority of patients suffering from fatal diseases closer to treatment under the new pathway. Bellina is now one of only two patients who have been treated under the right-to-try pathway since President Trump signed the legislation in May.

BrainStorm, which is currently running a Phase 3 trial for a stem cell treatment for ALS, has said publicly it will not give the treatment to patients other than Bellina under right to try.

The company has cited financial difficulties providing the treatment to patients that cannot pay, but said they would provide Bellina access as a thank you for his advocacy around the law.

Bellina acknowledged the struggles of other ALS patients to gain access Tuesday. “For all of my brothers and sisters in the ALS community, I know I didn’t deserve this opportunity any more than you did,” Bellina wrote. “I only hope I can earn the blessing of your friendship by fighting every day until you all have the same opportunity.”

While Bellina’s treatment does not move the ball forward for those patients, it was applauded by the libertarian Goldwater Institute, which was a driving force behind the federal law. “For those with life-threatening illnesses — patients like Matt — Right to Try provides an important avenue to treatments that could prolong or save their lives,” the Arizona-based nonprofit wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

The news also comes at an opportune time for Trump, who may point to right to try in tonight’s State of the Union as one of his administration’s key accomplishments in the last year. He gave the effort a high profile shout-out in his 2018 address.

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  • Our government is so misguided it’s pathetic–they spend billions of $$ on social benefits to literally millions of illegal immigrants. people who should not be here in the first place and yet thousands of U.S. citizens in dire need of medical treatments such as NurOwn for ALS are virtually left to fend for themselves !! Stand up America.

  • Does anyone remember the first recipient of an artificial heart or the first person to receive a heart transplant?
    Life is wonderful , enjoy it’s little steps!

    • Could not agree more. I don’t care how he got access. I care that there may be something that works for ALS. I lost my mother to this horrible disease. Why is STAT and NYU led by Allison Bateman-House making villains out of Mr. Bellina and the company that gave him this therapy? Don’t they claim to want to help patients. They are on a witch hunt. This article and the NYU so called bio-ethicists are hurting ALS patients.

  • This is amazing news. Have you actually spoken to others suffering from ALS? We are all dying a horrible death. If there is something that works for even some of us to stop or slow our disease, this is a miracle. Why do you discount something that is so promising because it was offered through Right to Try. This is not journalism. You are hurting the whole ALS community.

  • It’s clear you have a bias. It’s ok, we all do. have you talked to Mr. Bellina? Do you realize that there has never been a clinically meaningful treatment for ALS? If RTT has offered hope and a person is responding, this is monumental. Are you such a leftist zealot that you have no humanity? I hope fate does not come back to you.

    • I know – doesn’t it break your heart to see such shortsightedness? How on earth do we start if someone doesn’t take the first step?

  • An announcement about an incredible first step. Great job Matt Bellina and the people who are working so hard for the terminally ill! Kudos to BrainStorm for going BOLDLY!

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