LITTLE ROCK, AR (News release) – Late Yesterday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) signed Senate Bill 4—the Arkansas Right To Try Act—into law. This makes Arkansas the seventh state in the country to adopt Right To Try. The state House and Senate passed the bill on unanimous bipartisan votes in February. Arkansas State Senator John Cooper sponsored the Right To Try legislation.
“We all know the pain of losing someone we love to a terminal illness,” said Darcy Olsen, the president of the Goldwater Institute, the group leading the national, bipartisan Right To Try effort. “If you know there’s a treatment that is helping people survive, who is anyone to say ‘No; you don’t have the right to try to save your own life or to save your child’s life’? Of course you do. Of course people should have the right to try promising medicines when they are fighting for their lives.”
Right To Try allows terminally ill Americans to try investigational treatments that have passed Phase 1 of the FDA approval process but are not yet on pharmacy shelves. Right To Try expands access to potentially life-saving treatments years before patients would normally be able to access them.
Last year four states adopted Right To Try laws with overwhelming bipartisan support: Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri. Arizona voters passed the law by ballot in November with 78 percent. Wyoming’s Governor signed the law on Monday; and lawmakers in South Dakota and Virginia have sent the law to their governors for signature. Twenty-five additional states are considering the law this year. Eight of those states have already passed the law through one chamber of their Legislature since January 1.
The FDA has a process that allows individual patients to ask permission to access investigational medicines, but fewer than 1,000 people a year receive help. Others die while waiting on their approval. The FDA recently announced plans to shorten the application form. “A simpler form is lipstick on a pig, window dressing for an inhumane system that prevents the vast majority of Americans with terminal illnesses from accessing promising investigational treatments. Compassionate use should be the rule for everyone, not the exception,” said Olsen.
The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have both editorialized that the Right To Try movement is prompting long overdue change at the FDA.
Right To Try is limited to patients with a terminal disease that have exhausted all conventional treatment options and cannot enroll in a clinical trial. All medications available under the law must have successfully completed basic safety testing and be part of the FDA’s on-going approval process.
About the Goldwater Institute
The Goldwater Institute drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater’s home state of Arizona. Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real world impact. No less a liberal icon than the New York Times calls the Goldwater Institute a “watchdog for conservative ideals” that plays an “outsize role” in American political life.