Could the “Right to Try” Law Extend My Life?

What happens when you have a terminal illness and you’re starting to run out of options? New legislation currently under consideration by several states, the “Right to Try” law, could offer hope to those patients who have exhausted all treatment options.

Thomas Sand, for example, a patient at the TriHealth Cancer Institute, who has inoperable stage III lung cancer, would potentially be a good candidate. He’s spent two years being treated for lung cancer and says “it shrunk a little bit, but they keep an eye on it. I’ve got the best doctors in the world.” 

James Maher MD, of the TriHealth Cancer Institute, and a member of Thomas’ care team, admits he’s tried everything available – but he wishes he could offer more. “It’s just heartbreaking, when you don’t have that capability to help them,” Dr. Maher tells Local 12’s Liz Bonis.

What is the "Right to Try" Law?

“Right to Try,” is meant to give patients with terminal illnesses access to drugs considered basically safe, but not yet approved for general use by the Food and Drug Administration. Colorado recently passed this law, and Missouri, Louisiana and Arizona are said to be considering it. 

“The difficulty with 'Right to Try' I see is you get that right to try but you still have to have that willing pharmaceutical company and then, still the willing physician approval to prescribe it,” Dr. Maher points out.

Similarly, some say it may give patients false hope, without really extending his or her life.

Ask Your Health Care Provider About Your Options

However, Dr. Maher reminds patients that you should always ask your health care provider about your options:

  • Most teams, including Dr. Maher’s, have dozens of clinical trials in the works. National trials are often listed online.
  • Through the “compassionate use program,” you may be able to get access to unapproved drugs. However, it involves a lot of paperwork (it takes about 100 hours to fill out) and you need to have a willing drug company provide the drug as well as a physician willing to prescribe it.
Tags Cancer