Little Rock, Ark. (Jan. 23, 2015) – A bill passed by an important Arkansas Senate committee this week would effectively nullify some Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules that prevent treatments from being used by terminally ill patients.
Senate Bill 4 (SB4) was introduced by Sen. John Cooper (R-21) as the Arkansas Right to Try Act on Jan. 14. The bill was quickly moved to a hearing and vote in the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor. On Wednesday, the bill was considered and sent to the Senate floor with a “Do Pass” recommendation.
The bill serves as the latest pushback against the FDA and its controversial methodology of approving drugs for mass consumption. If passed into law, a patient suffering from a terminal disease attested to by a physician and who has considered all other approved treatment options would be able to try experimental treatments or drugs not yet approved by the FDA, effectively nullifying this narrow, but important set of federal restrictions.
An amendment was included in committee and approved by the full Senate clarifying that the Arkansas Medicaid Program would not be required to provide coverage for such investigational products approved by SB4. Advocates of broader freedom consider this an additional victory, combining expanded choice for patients without a requirement to socialize the costs of those choices.
SB4 makes up part of a greater trend promoting medical freedom sweeping the nation. During this most recent November election, Arizona residents approved Prop. 303, known as the Arizona Terminal Patients’ Right to Try Referendum. The proposition allows investigational drugs, biological products or devices to be made available to eligible terminally ill patients, not permitted under the FDA.
A similar bill in Montana, one of 19 states considering Right to Try legislation for 2015, was also given a hearing this week in the state Senate. According to the sponsor, Sen. Cary Smith, there was widespread support for his bill, SB142, with over 70 co-sponsors, and many getting on board early. That bill is likely to move to the Senate floor in the coming weeks.
Although these laws only address one small aspect of FDA regulation, they provide us with a clear model demonstrating how to nullify federal statutes that violate the Constitution. The strategy narrows the influence of nullification to limited aspects of the law itself. The strategy works because it focuses on ending specific federal policies large numbers of Americans from across the political spectrum oppose.
SB4 now moves to the state Senate, where it will be given a 3rd reading and vote in the near future.
In Arkansas: Support this bill by following the action steps at THIS LINK
In Other States: Take the steps to get a similar bill passed in your state at this link.