Missouri passes ‘Right to Try' legislation for unapproved drugs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Missouri could soon become the first state in the nation to ease access to unapproved, so-called “investigational” drugs and treatments for terminally ill patients, with the state legislature sending a “Right to Try” bill to the governor’s desk.

Lawmakers in both houses of the Republican-controlled legislature passed the bill without opposition. Governor Nixon has not publicly commented on the bill and a spokesman for his office said the bill “will receive a full and fair review before the Governor takes action on it.”

The new law would allow patients access to drugs and treatments  not yet fully approved by the FDA, but which have passed the first few stages of the agency’s testing process. It gained attention this spring for its similarities to the events depicted in the Oscar-winning “Dallas Buyer’s Club” film, earning the legislation the nickname of the “Missouri Buyer’s Club” bill.

The bill, which began in the House, was shepherded though the capital by Dr. Jim Neely, a physician-turned-legislator for whom it is deeply personal. His daughter was denied access to a clinical trial to treat colon cancer because she was pregnant and her cancer has continued to spread.

“It’s not every day that we can pass legislation that can mean the difference between life and death but I truly believe we have done exactly that with the Right to Try bill,” Neely said in a statement. “I hope other states will follow our lead and provide these same life-saving options to their own citizens.”

Legislatures in Colorado, Louisiana and Oklahoma are considering similar reforms, backed by a libertarian think tank. 

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