ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Mar. 25, 2016) – Maryland House and Senate committees killed two bills that would have set the foundation to nullify in practice some Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules that deny access to experimental treatments by terminally ill patients. That leaves these gravely ill Marylanders with little hope of receiving what could have been life-saving treatments.
Senate Bill 63 (SB63) was introduced by Sen. Bryan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel) while House Bill 56 (HB56) was introduced by Del. Karen Young (D-Frederick) to give additional options for patients facing life-threatening illnesses by tearing down federal roadblocks that have needlessly kept medicine out of the hands of the very sick.
“A lot of these drugs could save people’s lives and a lot of people don’t have time to wait,” Sen. Simonaire said in a Capital Gazette report about his legislation.
Unfortunately, the most vulnerable Maryland residents are now going to be forced to wait because SB63 and HB56 were both killed unceremoniously without so much as receiving a fair vote in the House and Senate.
HB56 was killed in the House Health and Government Operations Committee where it was given an unfavorable report at the behest of Chairman Peter Hammen (D-Baltimore). The Senate Finance Committee finished off SB63, where the bill received an unfavorable report under the leadership of Chairman Thomas Middleton (D-Charles).
Maryland will have to wait at least another year before terminally patients can have the opportunity to make their own health decisions away from federal regulations that can be deadly. Sadly, many won’t live to see that day.
“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.”
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits general access to experimental drugs. However, under the expanded access provision of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. 360bbb, patients with serious or immediately life-threatening diseases may access experimental drugs after receiving express FDA approval.
“Americans shouldn’t have to ask the government for permission to try to save their own lives,” said Darcy Olsen, president of the Goldwater Institute. “They should be able to work with their doctors directly to decide what potentially life-saving treatments they are willing to try. This is exactly what Right To Try does.”
If SB63 and HB56 had passed, Maryland could have been the twenty-fifth state to approve Right to Try legislation. The momentum has built very quickly behind this idea, with most of these states passing these laws within the past year alone. This rapid progress shows that Americans from across the political spectrum intuitively understand that these FDA regulations are harmful and must be mitigated through state-level action.
It will just have to be another year before Maryland joins those states and makes the compassionate move to put the care of sick patients ahead of pointless fidelity to senseless federal regulations.
Rep. Peter Hammen is Chairman of the House Health and Government Operations Committee and Sen. Thomas Middleton is Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. These were the men who were in charge of the successful efforts to derail SB63 and HB56. Please call these legislators, and politely urge them to support ‘Right to Try’ measures in the future.
Hammen: (410) 841-3772
Middleton: (410) 841-3616