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TN House Passes ‘Right to Try’ Measure

Legislation likely up for Senate vote next week; Would give incurable patients access to experimental drugs

A bill to grant Tennessee patients suffering serious and seemingly incurable illnesses the “Right to Try” experimental-phase treatments has passed the state’s House of Representatives.

House Bill 143 passed on a 94-0 vote Thursday.

Sponsored by Bristol Republican Jon Lundburg, the legislation seeks to permit sufferers of “advanced illness,” not thought to be reversible, access to any “investigational drug, biological product, or device…that has successfully completed phase 1 of a clinical trial but has not yet been approved for general use by the federal food and drug administration and remains under investigation in a clinical trial that is approved by the FDA.”

The Tennessee Senate’s version of the legislation is awaiting a full chamber vote.

The Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free-market think tank in Nashville, has been pushing for the legislation this year. In a statement after House passage of the bill, a statement issued from Beacon lauded how “lawmakers from both sides of the aisle fought for what was right, choosing people over party affiliation.”

“We are humbled to have been part of this bi-partisan effort in the House to allow terminally ill patients to access potentially life-saving medicine that has already been deemed safe by the FDA,” said Beacon Policy Director Lindsay Boyd. “This is a great example of what can happen when Republicans and Democrats come together on common sense legislation.”

Arizona’s free-market think tank, the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, has been pressing for similar laws in legislatures across the country — and sent advocates to testify on behalf of Tennessee’s version of the bill last month.

Last week Montana became the 13th state to enact such a measure, according to the Goldwater Institute, which on their website declares, “States should enact ‘Right to Try’ measures to protect the fundamental right of people to try to save their own lives.”

Tennessee’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity, also strong backers of “Right to Try” legislation, issued a statement praising the House’s action. ““Today we are one step closer in assisting those in dire need of healthcare options,” said AFPTN director Andrew Ogles. “Though this is a first step in fixing an issue within healthcare, it demonstrates that states can innovate and find solutions without the interference of the federal government.”

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