Three Hawaii Bills would Protect Terminally-Ill Patients from FDA Restrictions
From the Tenth Amendment Center, February 13, 2015
Three bills filed in the Hawaii House this week would effectively nullify some Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules that prevent treatments from being used by terminally ill patients.
Senate Bill 585 (SB585), House Bill 882 (HB882) and House Bill 92 (HB92) serve as the latest pushback against the FDA and its controversial methodology of approving drugs for mass consumption.
The bills would allow drug manufacturers to make experimental drugs available to terminally ill patients who meet certain qualifications. For example, under SB585 a qualifying patient is someone who is unable to participate in a clinical trial for the terminal illness within one hundred miles of the their home. Under HB882, a terminal illness is defined as one in which the patient is not expected to live beyond 24 months.
The bills would also establish protection for physicians who recommend the experimental drugs, prohibiting the medical board from revoking their license as long as they comply with the provisions contained within the proposed bill.
All three bills have been sent to their respective Health Committees.
These three bills make up part of a greater trend promoting medical freedom sweeping the nation. During this most recent November election, Arizona residents approved Prop. 303, known as the Arizona Terminal Patients’ Right to Try Referendum. The proposition allows investigational drugs, biological products or devices to be made available to eligible terminally ill patients, not permitted under the FDA.
Legislatures in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, and Louisiana, have already passed Right to Try Laws similar to the Arizona amendment.
Although these laws only address one small aspect of FDA regulation, they provide us with a clear model demonstrating how to nullify federal statutes that violate the Constitution. The strategy narrows the influence of nullification to limited aspects of the law itself. The strategy works because it focuses on ending specific federal policies large numbers of Americans from across the political spectrum oppose.
Dying people should not be deprived of their right to any means that might ease their pain or keep them alive, and it is extremely difficult for opponents to argue that dying people should be forced to use only drugs approved of by bureaucrats who are incapable of empathizing with their possible suffering.
In Louisiana, for example, the law received 80 percent approval, according to one survey. In three of the states that passed “Right to Try” laws, not a single politician voted nay. In Michigan, the entire state House voted yea with no abstentions, while only two senators voted against it.
The cumbersome bureaucratic process deployed by the FDA makes Right to Try laws necessary. It can take more than a decade and a billion dollars to get new medications on the market, according to Lucy Caldwell, communications director for the Goldwater Institute.
Mikaela Knapp provides a compelling real-life example.
According to a World Net Daily report when Knapp was diagnosed with kidney cancer, she and her husband, Keith, launched a social media campaign to lobby drug firms and the FDA to give her access to a new gene therapy. Their efforts gained national attention and generated 200,000 signatures on a petition at Change.org but failed to win access to the treatment. The 25-year-old newlywed died April 24.
The ugly truth is she died waiting for somebody’s permission that never came.
This serves as yet another example of failure in Washington D.C. The FDA shows no inclination to change its rules, and Congress has not made any move to loosen restrictions, despite countless stories like Knapp’s the courts haven’t helped either. In 2003, a federal judge ruled that terminally ill people do not have a right to access to investigational medicine. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider an appeal on that ruling.
The fact that federal regulatory agencies and federal courts refuse to show compassion for terminally ill patients make state Right to Try bills crucial.
In Hawaii: Support this bill by following the action steps at THIS LINK
Text, Status: SB585, HB882, HB92