President Donald Trump has signed an official order introducing legislation that allows terminally ill patients to try controversial experimental treatments upon request. The new regulations make it significantly easier for patients, who up until now, often struggled to be approved for drug trials and unapproved treatments, to access the care they need when all other measures fail.
• “With the passage of this bill, Americans will be able to seek cures,” Trump explained. He believes that dying patients should always be granted the “right to try” in an effort to survive and heal.
• The new Right to Try Act is controversial; some believe it creates loopholes for drug companies to bypass FDA testing requirements, putting public health at risk.
• The idea that the Right to Try Act jeopardizes health is largely a myth. It does not remove all barriers or testing, nor does it somehow bypass testing needs for drug companies. Instead, it grants unrestricted, physician-approved access to only the drugs that have passed the FA’s Phase 1 approval process.
• Supporters believe that when a patient is terminally ill, they should have the right to determine what risks they take with their own life. They assert that this right should be preserved even if the treatment tried carries a risk of death or extreme side effects.
• The new Right to Try Act is really a very small step forward in patient rights, at least in the grand scheme of things. Realistically, it will influence only a very small number of patients, but it has the potential to significantly reduce suffering and inspire faster medical research for the patients who opt in.
• Having access to experimental treatments may also address a common complaint against patient euthanasia — the idea that terminally ill patients turn to death because it’s cheaper or they run out of options. Having access to Phase 1 drugs may give these patients another alternative.