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Congressman Biggs and Congressman Fitzpatrick Send Letter to House Leadership on Right to Try

February 5, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congressman Andy Biggs and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick delivered a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Leader Kevin McCarthy, requesting that the House bring up the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act (S. 204) for a vote as soon as possible. Congressmen Biggs and Fitzpatrick were joined on the letter by 40 of their colleagues in the House of Representatives.

Read the text of the letter below:

February 5, 2018

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House of Representatives
H-232, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
House Majority Leader
H-107, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Ryan and Leader McCarthy:

We strongly urge you to bring the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act (S. 204) to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote as soon as possible.

The fundamental purpose of the Right to Try Act is very simple: it merely allows terminally ill patients who have exhausted all other options to try medications that have passed basic Food and Drug Administration safety protocols but not completed the full, multiyear approval process.  This bill safeguards any pharmaceutical company that may wish to participate in Right to Try, but it in no way requires participation to begin with.  We are not seeking to impose a mandate on anyone.  Instead, we are merely seeking to give patients who have no other options yet another possibility to try to save their own lives.

Right to Try legislation has now become law in 38 states, often with overwhelming support.  In Arizona, the initiative passed with 80 percent of the popular vote in a 2014 ballot effort.  Just last year, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf signed Right to Try into law after that measure unanimously passed both chambers of the General Assembly.  In fact, in these highly polarized times, it is difficult to think of any other policy initiative that has come even close to achieving as much popular support.

State legislation can only go so far, however, because it is being preempted by a lack of guidance at the federal level.  Unfortunately, the House has not acted despite the fact that S. 204 passed the Senate by unanimous consent on August 3 of last year.  Moving forward, placing S. 204 on the suspension calendar would be the best and most expedient way to proceed, and we have no doubt that such an effort would be successful.

What we cannot accept is inaction, endless delays, and half-measures.  Vice President Pence stated last month that passing Right to Try is “about restoring hope and giving patients with life-threatening diseases a fighting chance.  Let’s get this DONE.”  President Trump himself, in his first State of the Union address last week, stated that “people who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure.  It is time for Congress to give these wonderful Americans the ‘right to try.’” 

We wholeheartedly agree with these sentiments: it is now time to move forward without delay.  We owe nothing less to the millions of patients across the country who are fighting for their lives each and every day.