N.J. Lawmakers Push for ‘Right to Try’ Unapproved Drugs
A group of lawmakers is hoping to give terminally ill people in New Jersey access to drugs that are in the clinical trial stage, but have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Currently, there are 24 states that have enacted a "Right to Try" law.
Under the measure, a terminally ill person must get a prescription or recommendation from a physician for the investigational drug, biological product or device and give informed, written consent to use it. The doctor would be required to document that the patient has met these requirements.
"There are drugs that may have extraordinary effects on someone who is terminally ill, but the problem is that people who are given six months to live might never get their hands on this type of drug," said Assemblyman Joe Lagana (D-Paramus, a co-sponsor of the bill.
The law would apply to those patients that have a life expectancy of 12 months or less and have exhausted all other treatment options, according to Lagana.
There is no state in the Northeast that currently has a Right to Try law.
"There is a concern that the drugs may have terrible side effects and that's why they're not being dispensed at this point in time, but if somebody is terminally ill we should give them the choice whether or not they're willing to try something like this," the assemblyman said.
The bipartisan bill is co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt (D-Voorhees) and Maria Rodriquez-Gregg (R-Medford). In late June the bill was referred to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.