"Right To Try" Moves Past House

Feb 24, 2015

A “right to try” bill that would allow terminally ill patients to use experimental medication has taken another step forward in the Utah State Legislature.    

House bill 94 met the approval of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday. Sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, the bill previously passed the House overwhelmingly by a 72-1 vote.

Froerer presented the merits of his right-to-try legislation to the committee.

“If you look at the Declaration of Independence it talks about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Life and liberty are the foundations of this bill. It is my belief that we as government officials must protect that Declaration of Independence, particularly life and liberty. Those are the two principals that this bill hopes to address,” Froerer said.

For many who spoke in support of HB94, the issue has personal implications. Overstock.com President Jonathon Johnson, representing the Promote Liberty Political Action Committee, relayed his own father’s experience of asking his doctor for an alternative to chemotherapy.

“The doctor’s response was that it was too much work. It was too much work to try and get the FDA compassionate use exemption for experimental drugs,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t too much work for my father, it was too much work for the doctor. To get the compassionate use exemption from the FDA, it takes over a hundred hours of paperwork from a doctor.”

If signed into law, the bill would allow patients who have exhausted other options to try experimental drugs before they’re formally approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The drugs would still need to be deemed safe to use in clinical trials.

HB94 moves on to the full Senate for consideration.