House Approves Experimental Drug Bill, Senate Ready For Floor Debate

Apr 21, 2015
Originally published on April 22, 2015 8:21 am

The Florida House has passed a bill that creates the “Right to Try Act.”  The legislation gives dying patients a chance to try treatments that have undergone clinical trials but haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  

Patients who’ve been diagnosed as having less than a year to live would be eligible for the experimental treatments.

Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) says these drugs may someday help his daughter. She has Huntington’s Disease, a condition that causes the brain's nerve cells to break down.

“There are drugs in trial in California that within five years will be on the market,” Baxley told lawmakers. “Under your bill, she could live long enough to truly benefit from those.”

The most personal testimony came from Rep. Debbie Mayfield (R-Vero Beach). Her husband, Rep. Stan Mayfield, was diagnosed with cancer eight years ago and given three months to live. A clinical trial in Texas extended his life by 18 months. But when the trial was over, Mayfield’s time ran out.

“Time is what these patients need right now in order to continue. Three more months, if Stan had lived three more months, he would have seen his 12 year old turn 13. He would have seen his 15 year old turn 16.  He would have seen his 17 year old graduate from high school,” Mayfield said. “That’s how much little time – that’s all he needed left, but we couldn’t get it.”

Unlike the Senate proposal, the House version of the bill does not include medical marijuana. An attempt to add the marijuana provision was withdrawn out of concern that it would weaken support for the overall bill.

The Senate version has passed all of its committees and is ready for floor debate. 

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