A bill passed by an important Florida state House subcommittee this week would effectively nullify some Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations that prevent treatments from being used by terminally ill patients.
Rep. Ray Pilon (R-Sarasota) introduced the Florida Right to Try Act on Jan. 14. House Bill 269 (HB269) serves as the latest pushback against the FDA and its controversial methodology of approving drugs for mass consumption.
The bill passed through the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee unanimously with a 12-0 vote on March 25.
Under HB269, 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. The patient must give written, informed consent before undergoing the treatment, and the legislation provides an extensive definition of “informed consent.” The legislation stipulates that “a hospital or health care facility… is not required to provide new or additional services,” and provides legal protections for medical professionals and manufacturers.
Like 5 year old Jordan McLinn, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or DMD, a muscle weakening disorder. It is fatal. Kids born with DMD are often wheelchair-bound by age 12, with a life expectancy of just 25 years. In December, he became an honorary member of two Indiana fire departments.
According to a report in CBS News, “There are no approved therapies for Jordan’s condition, but his mother says a drug in development has had promising preliminary results in cases similar to his.”
“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.”
These bills make 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.
HB269 will now be heard in the House Health & Human Services Committee. It must pass through that committee successfully before it can receive a vote from the full state house.