On Thursday, Alabama 5th District U.S. Congressman Mo Brooks delivered a house floor speech requesting a vote on S. 204: the Right to Try Act, which gives terminally ill patients the option to try experimental treatments that have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Often the FDA’s approval of new treatments is a lengthy and complex processes that can takes decades to fully be completed. This bill would allow terminally ill patients to try potentially life-saving experimental treatments and gives patients the right to fight their diseases without having to fight federal bureaucracy.
“Patients shouldn’t have to give up their liberty, their freedom, their fight against terminal illness merely because the FDA says so” said Brooks.
Brooks was inspired by the story of Steve Mayfield, a beloved football coach at Central High School in Lauderdale County Alabama. Mayfield died in March of 2017 after a long and arduous battle with both Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and the FDA.
Like most terminally ill Americans, Mayfield did not have access to investigative treatments due to the FDA’s current policies. “While the Food and Drug Administration grants compassionate use waivers, meant to allow terminal patients access to experimental drugs, only about 1,500 waivers were granted in 2016” said Brooks.
“What are other terminally ill Americans to do? Nothing? Just waste away and die without a fight?”
Brooks believes the Right to Try Act is the best solution to this problem as it only grants access to treatments that have successfully completed the FDA’s Phase 1 approval requirement. This keeps patients safe from potentially harmful treatment processes while allowing them access to try potentially life changing medical care.
“Given the stark contrasts between life and death, between freedom and federal dictates, between hope and hopelessness, the House should take up and pass the Right to Try Act, thereby giving a chance for life to terminally ill patients and their families.”
The Senate passed Right to Try legislation last year, and it currently awaits a vote in the House.