A bill that would help those with terminal illnesses access treatments that haven’t received FDA approval will be taken up Tuesday, under calendars OK’d by the Assembly Committee on Rules.
The Assembly Committee on Health signed off on the “right to try” bill Wednesday.
The bill, authored by Rep. Pat Snyder, R-Wausau, would set up a process for eligible patients to access such drugs, devices or biological products. The committee voted 10-2 for an amended version of the bill, with two Dems voting for the bill and two voting against.
The bill has gotten pushback from the Wisconsin Medical Society. The society says doctors sympathize with those patients, but the legislation circumvents the typical process for ensuring treatments are safe and effective.
“This bill just goes against science,” said Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville, who was joined by Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, in opposing it.
But other lawmakers detailed stories of friends and family who might have benefited or could benefit from that process.
Rep. Dave Murphy, for example, said his son’s best friend found out weeks ago that he had a brain tumor.
“If there’s a drug that he could take that would save his life, I would want him to have access to that,” the Greenville Republican said.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, is working on similar legislation at the federal level.
The state bill, AB 69, would let eligible patients access a treatment that has yet to get approval from the FDA but has passed its phase 1 stage, which is aimed at figuring out side effects and safety concerns.
Patients would be eligible for that process if they’ve considered all other options, give consent to the treatment and have a recommendation or prescription from a physician, among other things.
Lawmakers adopted a substitute amendment from Snyder that adds two additional eligibility requirements. These include one that says individuals would be able to access such treatments if they’re ineligible or unable to participate in a clinical trial within 100 miles of their home or if their physician says they’re unsuitable for a trial.
The bill also limits liabilities for anyone involved in manufacturing or dispensing the treatment.