RICHMOND, Va. (Mar. 27, 2015) – Yesterday, a Virginia bill was signed into law that would nullify in practice some Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules that prevent treatments from being used by terminally ill patients.
Introduced by Rep. Margaret B. Ransone (R-99) with 23 bipartisan co-sponsors, House Bill 1750 (HB1750), the Virginia Right to Try Act, is the latest pushback against the FDA and their controversial methodology of withholding experimental treatments from people on their deathbed.
HB1750 was signed into law on March 26 by Governor Terry McAuliffe. The bill had previously passed through the state House and state Senate unanimously in February.
A patient suffering from a terminal disease attested to by a physician and who has considered all other approved treatment options is now able to try experimental treatments or drugs not yet approved by the FDA, effectively nullifying this narrow, but important set of federal restrictions in the state of Virginia.
“We all know the pain of losing someone we love to a terminal illness,” said Darcy Olsen, the president of the Goldwater Institute, in a press release about HB1750. “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.”
Health care providers who prescribe these drugs to patients are shielded from liability under HB1750. The text of the bill states that “no health care provider who recommends, prescribes, administers, distributes, or supplies an investigational drug, biological product, or device to a person (under the bill)…shall be deemed to have engaged in unprofessional conduct, or shall be adversely affected in any decision relating to licensure, on such grounds.”
“We are super excited that hopefully families won’t have to experience what we went through,” Aimee Hardy, whose son was diagnosed with cancer and saved by an experimental treatment yet to be approved by the FDA, said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”
HB1750 makes up part of a greater trend 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.
Legislatures in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Wyoming, Arkansas, and Louisiana, have already passed Right to Try Laws similar to the Arizona amendment, and more than 20 states are considering such measures in 2015.
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.
“The Right to Try Act is a no-brainer,” said Mike Maharrey of the Tenth Amendment Center. “When someone is on their deathbed, the fact that FDA regulations would let them die rather than try, has got to be one of the most inhumane policies of the federal government. Every state should nullify the FDA like this.”
Take the steps to get a similar bill passed in your state at THIS LINK.