Under the Dome

NC House votes to let terminally ill patients try experimental treatments

The N.C. House voted unanimously Tuesday for a “right to try” bill, which would let terminally ill patients try experimental treatments that haven’t been approved by the FDA.

“This legislation is designed to offer some final hope to patients who have been identified as having a terminal illness and exhausted all their options,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Hugh Blackwell of Burke County.

Any drug made eligible must have completed the initial phase of a clinical trial. The bill would prevent licensing boards from taking any disciplinary action against doctors based on their recommendations of experimental drugs or products. Pharmaceutical companies also couldn’t be sued, and insurance companies wouldn’t have to provide coverage for any treatments.

“This will offer some protection from liability claims in the event things don’t work out as they should,” Blackwell said.

Similar bills have already been passed – or are under review – in a number of other states. The “right to try” legislation is being promoted by the conservative Goldwater Institute.

“Americans shouldn’t have to ask the government for permission to try to save their own lives,” said the group’s president, Darcy Olsen, in a news release. “They should be able to work with their doctors directly to decide what potential treatments they are willing to try.”

The bill heads next to the Senate.