HARTFORD, Conn. (Mar. 25, 2015) A Connecticut bill that would nullify in practice some Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules that prevent terminally ill patients from accessing treatments was recently passed unanimously through a state House committee. The vote was unanimous, 25-0, with three abstentions.
Introduced by State Rep. Vincent J. Candelora (R-86), State Sen. Martin M. Looney (D-11), State Sen. Kevin D. Witkos (R-8), and State Sen. Art Linares (R-33), House Bill 6709 (HB6709), the Connecticut Right to Try Act, is the latest pushback against the FDA and their controversial methodology of withholding experimental treatments from people even on their deathbed. It passed through the Joint Public Health Committee by a 25-0 vote on March 4.
Under the bill, a patient suffering from a terminal disease attested to by a physician and who has considered all other approved treatment options will be able to try experimental treatments or drugs not yet approved by the FDA, effectively nullifying this narrow, but important set of federal restrictions.
HB6709 co-sponsor Sen. Art Linares said the following during his testimony:
Terminal patients wish they had the opportunity to try medications and treatments that could make a difference in their health and quality and length of life. They want to participate in trials so that future patients benefit from the medical knowledge gained by physicians and researchers. Patients want their children to benefit from these drugs, either first-hand or by allowing their parent to live long enough to see them grow to adult-hood. I believe we should do all we can to support these patients, and allow them to try the newest medications available.
“This bill 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.”
The bill protects those involved in prescribing experimental products and treatments as well. HB6709 reads, in part:
Nothing in… this act shall create a private cause of action against a manufacturer of an investigational drug, biological product or device or against the patient’s treating physician or any other person or entity involved in the care of a patient being treated with an investigational drug, biological product or device for any harm done to such patient resulting from the investigational drug, biological product or device.
HB6709 is apart 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.
“Drug trials are one of the few ways to bring about breakthrough medicine that could make a significant difference but the time it takes for the FDA to give their final approval could take years,” State Rep. Noreen Kokoruda (R-101) said. “The passage of HB6709 could literally prove to be a matter of life or death for those afflicted with terminal diseases.”
Now that it has passed through its committee assignment successfully, HB6709 is set to receive a full vote in the state house.
For Connecticut: Take action to support this bill HERE.
For other states: Take the steps to get a similar bill passed in your state at THIS LINK.