“Right to Try” Bill Receives Warm Reception in Senate

January 13, 2016



Columbia, S.C. — A subcommittee of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee gave the “Right to Try” bill (S.929) a unanimous 5-0 vote today, picking up a new co-sponsor in the process. Senator Joel Lourie (D-Richland) signed onto the bill sponsored by Senator Paul Campbell (R-Berkeley) and Senator Danny Verdin (R-Laurens).

“Right to Try” is a bipartisan movement sweeping the country to allow terminally ill patients access to possibly life-saving experimental drugs that have passed the initial safety test by the Food & Drug Administration (Phase 1 of 3 FDA phases) but are not yet available for physicians to prescribe. The patient, the drug company and the patient’s physician must jointly consent to use of the drug. “Right to Try” offers a new path beyond the small number (1,000 nationwide) of patients who are approved for “compassionate use” each year.

Testifying in the hearing today were Palmetto Promise Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Oran Smith and Goldwater Institute attorney Kurt Altman. Altman was a part of the Goldwater team that drafted the original bill that has passed into law in 24 states and has been introduced in 12 additional states this year.

“In the wake of the shootings in Charleston last summer, we are looking at a legislative session in an entirely different way,” Dr. Smith told the committee. “’Right to Try’ is an example of working in the legislative process to put hurting people first—perhaps those who are hurting worst—terminally ill South Carolinians. We are thrilled to be the point organization in South Carolina for ‘Right to Try.’”

The Goldwater Institute puts it this way: “The FDA says providing dying people with investigational medications should be an exception. We think it should be the rule. People fighting for their lives should have access to medicines that could save them without needing a permission slip from the government.”

A vote in the full Senate Medical Affairs Committee could come as soon as next week. A House bill (H.4542), sponsored by Rep. Cezar McNight (D-Williamsburg) has been introduced as well and is expected to be assigned to a subcommittee hearing soon.