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First of 'Right to Try'

A biotech company called Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics may be the first to offer terminally ill patients an unproven therapy under the recently passed "right-to-try" bill — for a high price, Bloomberg reports.

The bill, which was passed and signed into law late last month, allows dying patients to access experimental drugs that have not yet gotten regulatory approval without going through the US Food and Drug Administration.

According to Bloomberg, Brainstorm plans to offer an experimental treatment it is developing for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and while it is still settling on a price, Brainstorm CEO Chaim Lebovits says cell therapies for cancer have been priced at $300,000. "Companies cannot be NGOs," Lebovits tells it. "We have to have an incentive." Bloomberg notes that Brainstorm has no drug on the market yet.

Derek Lowe writes at In the Pipeline that he didn't expect altruism and that he actually expects far worse to come of the measure. "[T]he next wave will not be just people who have seized on this plan opportunistically, but who have targeted it right from the start," he says. "Who will pick out terrible diseases for which there are no therapies at all, the better to insure a supply of completely desperate patients and families, and provide them with utterly useless therapies at stiff, stiff prices."