President Donald Trump signed Right To Try legislation into law on Wednesday, allowing patients with terminal illnesses to use medicines and treatments that are still in the Food and Drug Administration's pre-approval stages.
The law will give patients the ability to try potentially life-saving experimental treatments, an effort to overcome the FDA's lengthy approval process in special cases. To qualify, the experimental treatments must have passed at least Phase 1 of a clinical trial.
Trump thanked Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) for their work seeing the bill passed through Congress and spoke on the benefits of the law.
"I'd see people – friends of mine and other people I'd read about – where they'd travel all over the world looking for a cure," Trump said of those who might benefit by the Right to Try law. "We have the best medical people in the world, but we have trials and we have real long times, 12 years, 15 years, even when things look really promising, so many years."
"With the Right to Try law I'm signing today, patients with life threatening illnesses will finally have access to experimental treatments that could improve or even cure their conditions. These are experimental treatments and products that have shown great promise, and we weren't able to use them before," Trump said.
Republicans widely praised the passage of the bill last week. It passed largely along party lines in the House, 250-169, with 22 Democrats joining their Republican collegues. The Washington Free Beacon reported:
"The House voted to restore just a little bit of freedom, a little bit of hope to terminal patients and their families," said Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) in a press conference last night. He called it a "really big day" and thanked numerous colleagues and the terminally ill who pushed for the passage of the bill. He called the terminally ill and their families the "real heroes."
Johnson was instrumental in the past several years in the push for Right to Try. The U.S. Senate passed the legislation in August.
Advocates indicated the legislation is common sense and gives those who have exhausted all other options another chance.
"This is an extraordinarily great day," said Sen. Joe Donnelly (D., Ind). "You can even hear the joy when this passed, and the excitement and the happiness." Donnelly indicated the "biggest stars on the team" to the bill's passage were the families of the terminally ill.
"I feel humbled to be a part of this. This is what we're supposed to do as legislators, is to listen to our folks, to try to make good legislation that makes people's lives better and makes America stronger, and I was privileged to be a part of this," said Donnelly.
Trump also spoke about bills similar to Right to Try that had been considered in the House and the Senate.
"I said, ‘Do me a favor, tell me which is the better bill for the people. Not for the insurance company, not for the pharmaceutical companies – I don't care about them.’ I really don't. I couldn't care less," Trump said.
"We are finally giving these wonderful Americans the right to try," Trump said.