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'Right to Try' Heads Toward Law

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs, NPR reports. It adds that the "right-to-try" bill was already passed by the Senate and now is heading to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.

According to NPR, the bill has divided patient advocates. Proponents argue that it makes it easier for dying patients to try experimental drugs that have already gone through safety testing by cutting the US Food and Drug Administration out of the process and by changing patient criteria for access. Opponents, however, contend that it could lead patients to take drugs that actually shorten their lives.

To get access, patients will need approval from a doctor as well as from the pharmaceutical company developing the drug, NPR says, adding that the drug companies do not have to accommodate requests.

The New York Times previously reported that the bill doesn't actually address the bottleneck of access to experimental drugs. It noted that the FDA approves about 99 percent of the compassionate use applications it gets for experimental treatments. Instead, it said the hold up is often the drug company, as it might not have enough of the compound or still might have concerns about its efficacy.