Senate OKs bill to give dying patients “right to try” promising meds

prescription pill opioids

Doctors will be allowed to prescribe experimental drugs to terminally ill patients under a new law passed in the Senate. Senate Bill 357 gives patients the “right to try” drugs the FDA has designated as safe for clinical trials.

The legislation was inspired by 9-year old Gabe Griffin of Shelby County. Gabe suffers from an incurable disease called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Duchenne causes generalized weakness and muscle wasting that increases over time and with muscle activity. Through a nonprofit, Hope for Gabe, created by his parents, the Griffin family putting focus on Duchenne to ensure that Gabe and others like him have access to drugs that could possibly save their lives.

Gabe’s parents say clinical trials are his only option. His father, Scott Griffin, said, “As we get further down the road with Gabe’s terminal condition, we are running out of time.  As a father, the last thing I want to do is sign my son up for a clinical trial where he may receive a placebo drug. If a drug is safe enough to be in an FDA trial where humans are already taking it, then Gabe should have the right to be guaranteed access and that is what this is about to Traci and I as his parents.”

In a prepared statement, bill sponsor Sen. Cam Ward,  an Alabaster Republican, said, “Terminal patients should have a right to try, and as a father and an elected official I believe we should do everything we can to help remove unnecessary bureaucratic red tape from the process so that doctors and terminally ill patients can determine the best course of action in each individual situation.”

The bill will now move to the House for consideration.

Read more about Gabe Griffin in an Alabama Today editorial.