Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Urges Passage of “Right to Try” Act

May 21, 2018
Press Release

House to Vote This Week

Helps Terminal Patients Get Access to Experimental Drugs

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today called on Congress to pass and send to the President legislation giving terminally ill patients quicker access to experimental drugs.

The House has already approved the bill, which was co-sponsored  by Buchanan. The Senate passed a similar version which will be voted on by the House this week. If it passes, it will go the President for his signature.

“A patient with a life-threatening disease who wants to take a chance on a promising treatment should be allowed to do so,” Buchanan said. “They may not have the time to wait for final FDA approval, which can take years.”

The Right to Try Act of 2017 would allow terminal patients an option to receive drugs that have passed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) basic safety testing, but are still working their way through the often-lengthy bureaucratic process to final approval.

The bill applies to terminally ill patients and to drugs that have successfully passed the first phase of the FDA’s approval process, which ensures that drugs are safe for human use. Forty states have passed right-to-try legislation to date.

Buchanan noted that it usually takes more than a decade and at least a billion dollars for medications to come to market. Many potentially life-changing medications that are currently stuck in the FDA approval process have already been approved for use in other countries. As a result, oftentimes many patients and their families travel around the world as a last resort to seek treatment.

“Suffering Americans deserve a right to try medications with the potential to save their life,” Buchanan said. “They should not be forced to choose between succumbing to their illness or making expensive trips overseas in search of treatments not yet available in the U.S.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that hundreds of thousands of Americans travel abroad each year for medical care – common reasons for travel include cancer care and other surgeries.

Over one million Americans die each year from terminal illness. A Goldwater Institute poll found that 80 percent of Americans support right to try legislation.