Congressman Andy Biggs and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick Introduce the Right to Try Act of 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressmen Andy Biggs (AZ-05) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) introduced the Right to Try Act of 2017, which would allow terminally-ill patients an option to receive drugs that have passed the Food and Drug Administration’s basic safety testing, but are still working their way through the often lengthy bureaucratic process to final approval. The bill is a companion to Senate legislation introduced by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) last month.
Congressman Biggs and Congressman Fitzpatrick issued the following statements:
“Each day, families across the country receive the devastating news of a terminal diagnosis. Even with the amazing work done in American medical research and development, for too many, access to these potentially lifesaving treatments will come too late, or not at all. The Right to Try Act opens the opportunity to trial-stage care and establishes the freedom for patients and their doctors to try therapies where the benefits far outweigh the risks,” said Fitzpatrick. “Americans – our constituents – should have every opportunity to fight for their life, or the life of their loved one. Whether it’s a father courageously battling ALS or a brave child living with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy, they deserve the right to try.”
“In November 2014, Arizonans passed a state version of Right to Try with nearly 80 percent of the vote, which demonstrates that giving patients access to a potentially life-saving drugs has strong bipartisan support,” Biggs said. “Right to Try now needs to be enacted at the federal level. Americans facing a terminal illness should be allowed to try all options that could save their lives, and our bill will give power to those patients. I am grateful for Congressman Fitzpatrick’s partnership on this vital issue, and I look forward to working with him to pass this legislation in the House.”
Background and additional information:
For those who don’t have time to wait years for the full FDA approval process to conclude, or who may not qualify for a clinical trial, Right to Try grants patients the freedom to try drug therapies in situations in which the potential benefits could outweigh the risks. In essence, it gives patients the option of trying to save their own lives.
Right to Try is already law in 33 states. This bill would simply ensure that the federal government, including the FDA, does not interfere with these state laws. The Right to Try Act includes the following safeguards:
- It applies only to terminally-ill patients and does not undo the current FDA approval process
- It applies only to drugs that have gone through FDA Phase I (safety) testing.
- It requires physician certification that other options are exhausted or not available, thereby maintaining incentives for patients to seek out and join clinical trials.
- It ensures adverse outcomes are not held against pending pharmaceutical applications for FDA approval, thereby preventing drug companies from being discouraged to participate.
- It precludes patients, doctors, and manufacturers from assuming any additional liability under this act.
Congressman Andy Biggs is a first-term Representative from Arizona’s Fifth Congressional District, representing parts of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Sun Lakes, and Queen Creek. Congressman Biggs is a member of the House Judiciary and Science, Space, and Technology committees, and is the chairman of the Environment Subcommittee. He lives with his wife Cindy in Gilbert.
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick is serving his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives and is a member of the Homeland Security, Foreign Affairs & Small Business committees. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th District which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He is a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).