Are Patients Benefiting From Right to Try?

Nearly a year after “Right to Try” – legislation that gets dying patients access to experimental treatment – was signed into federal law, many patients still have not received treatment, according to an investigation by STAT News. Reporters found that patients who were vocal supporters of the Right-to-Try movement are facing difficulties securing investigational treatments from pharmaceutical companies, raising the question of whether the law changed practice or only offered patients false hope.

Advocates for the law, like the libertarian think tank Goldwater Institute, cautioned temperance in judging Right to Try’s success. “There is a rush to conclusion here on the part of people who had opposed right to try,” said Naomi Lopez Bauman, director of health-care policy at the Goldwater Institute. “I think you are going to see a lot more activity this first quarter, and it will, I think, accelerate from there.”

Opponents of the law have a different take. The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) pointed out that prior to the legislation, companies could already provide experimental drugs to dying patients via a pathway run by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “To us, it’s not a surprise that companies would not find [right to try] any more appealing compared to the expanded access pathway,” Paul Melmeyer, director of federal policy for NORD, told STAT News.

ASH Clinical News took an in-depth look at “The Realities of Right to Try” in an October 2018 feature.

Source: STAT News, January 29, 2019.