House approves 'right to try,' sends bill to Trump's desk

TheHill | 5/22/2018 | Rachel Roubein
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The House sent “right to try” legislation on experimental drugs to President Trump’s desk Tuesday — a measure Trump, Vice President Pence and groups backed by mega-donors Charles and David Koch have repeatedly urged Congress to pass.

The House passed the bill largely along party lines by a 250-169 vote.

Democrats - Ranks - Republicans - Bill - Patients

Twenty-two Democrats broke ranks to join Republicans in supporting the bill which lets patients bypass the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when they request access to drugs the agency hasn’t yet approved.

Passage of the bill is a victory for Trump, who has personally called on lawmakers to send the measure to his desk, including an unexpected endorsement in his State of the Union speech.

Backlash - House - Democrats - Safety - Organizations

Right to try has drawn backlash from House Democrats and patient safety organizations, who worry sidelining the FDA puts patients in danger.

More than 100 advocacy groups — such as the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and Friends of Cancer Research — sent a letter Monday to House Republican and Democratic leadership expressing their “strong opposition” to the bill. Guidance from House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on the day’s schedule urged Democrats to vote against the legislation.

FDA - Oversight - Access - Treatments - Reason

“FDA oversight of access to experimental treatments exists for a reason — it protects patients from potential snake oil salesmen or from experimental treatments that might do more harm than good,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s ranking member, said Tuesday during debate on the bill.

“By removing FDA oversight, you are counting on physicians and manufacturers to serve as the gatekeeper and protector of patients,” he said. “I simply don’t buy that that’s going to work.”

Opponents - Hope - Patients - Drugmakers - Medicines

Opponents argue it gives “false hope” to patients since drugmakers aren’t required to give unapproved medicines to patients who ask for them. They also contend that the FDA already...
(Excerpt) Read more at: TheHill
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