Featured Health Care NewsTracker

‘Right to Try’ Becomes Law in TN

Allows incurable disease sufferers to use experimental drugs in some circumstances

People diagnosed with terminal illnesses in Tennesseans will now have the right to access experimental medications that haven’t passed the federal Food and Drug Administration’s final approval processes.

Gov. Bill Haslam signed the “Phil Timp-Amanda Wilcox Right to Try Act” into law Friday.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Jon Lundberg of Bristol and Sen. Joey Hensley of Hohenwald, both Republicans, unanimously passed both chambers of the General Assembly in April.

The legislation, House Bill 143, will grant Volunteer State doctors the ability to prescribe to terminally ill patients drugs that haven’t yet been fully vetted by the FDA, as long as they’ve passed phase 1 testing for safety.

The measure has been pushed nationally by the Goldwater Institute, and it received support in the Volunteer State from the Beacon Center and Tennessee’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

“By passing the Right to Try bill, Governor Haslam and the state legislature have given terminally ill patients a fighting chance,” said Lindsay Boyd, Beacon’s policy director, in a statement Friday.

However, while the measure has enjoyed wide support, some remain skeptical the law will be a panacea, and concerns have been raised about the law possibly raising false hopes among Tennessee’s terminally ill of a miracle cure being found.

Similar legislation has become law in 17 other states, and is awaiting the governor’s signature in Florida. And the legislation has been introduced in about 20 more states across the nation.

Alex Harris can be contacted at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *