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Medical Edge: What is the "Right To Try" law?

Updated: Friday, October 24 2014, 04:32 PM EDT
CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- New legislation under consideration in several states could help save the life of a loved one.
"Right To Try" laws might matter when it comes to surviving a terminal illness.  For the past two years Thomas Sand has been treated for lung cancer.

"It shrunk a little bit.  They keep a close eye on it, got the best doctors in the world," said Sand.

One of those, he says, is specialist named Dr. James Mahar who admits that although he's tried everything available, he would like to be able to offer Sands even more options.

Mahar said, "It's just heartbreaking sometimes when you don't have that capability to help them."

And that is what the "Right To Try" law is said to be all about.  Colorado recently passed the law; Missouri, Louisiana and Arizona  are said to be considering it.  It allows patients with terminal illnesses to have access to drugs considered basically safe but do not yet have final approval for general use by the Food and Drug Administration.
Dr. James Maher, a medical oncologist, said, "The difficulty with 'Right To Try,' I see, is that you get that right to try but then you still  have to have a willing pharmaceutical company and a willing physician to prescribe it."

Some also say it may give false hope without really extending a patient's life.

Until people have the "Right To Try" option in more states there are things you can ask your health care provider.  While it may not give you access to everything, it certainly would give certain patients with a terminal illness more choices than ever before.

The first, clinical trials; most teams such as Doctor Maher have dozens in the works.  National trials often have local sites listed online.  The second is something called a "compassionate use program." It involves a lot of paperwork and takes about 100 hours to complete.  The person has to have a willing drug company to provide the drug and a willing physician to prescribe it.

Until more is known, Thomas Sand says he will support every effort for any option to help extend a patient’s life,  It's even okay, he says, if that life is not his own.

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