Raleigh, N.C. — By a 118-0 vote Tuesday, the state House approved a proposal to allow terminally ill patients to try investigational drugs that haven't yet received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
House Bill 652, known as the "Right to Try" bill, gives terminally ill patients who have exhausted all other options expanded access to try, with a doctor's recommendation, an investigational drug, biological product or device that's still in the testing phase.
The drug or product would have to have passed safety testing, which is Phase 1 of the FDA testing process. The maker would not be required to supply the drug but could if it wishes to.
The patient would have to provide written consent that he or she and his or her doctor had discussed all options and potential outcomes, good and bad.
The maker of the product or drug would have some protection against liability in the event the product doesn't work for that patient, though not a complete shield against medical malpractice.
Sponsor Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke, said 12 other state legislatures have passed the legislation, and Arizona voters approved it by referendum, with 80 percent support. The proposal comes from the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think-tank in Phoenix.
"This bill is designed to try to offer some final hope to patients," Blackwell told the House. "This bill will enable them to have one last chance."
The legislation now moves to the Senate.