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'Right To Try' Law To Allow Experimental Drugs

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Gov. Rick Scott signed 55 bills into law Wednesday, including a new law dubbed the "Right to Try Act." It will let terminally ill patients starting July 1 have access to certain experimental drugs (HB 269). Also, doctors under a separate bill (HB 751) will be able to prescribe a type of drug known as an "opioid antagonist," which can be injected in emergency situations to halt overdoses.

Meanwhile, Scott vetoed a single measure (HB 1305) on Wednesday that would have allowed certain physicians and chiropractors to sell or rent electrostimulation medical equipment directly to patients without incurring license fees.

Scott --- in a letter explaining the veto to Secretary of State Ken Detzner --- said he agreed with the Legislature's attempt to "remove burdensome regulations." But he expressed concern that the bill would create "carve-outs," which he said can create "additional levels of complexity to regulatory requirements" and "present an unfair advantage to certain entities competing within the same industry."

As with Scott's two other vetoes this year, the bill was approved without opposition in the House and Senate during the regular session.

A Public Service Commission reform law (HB 7109), which goes into effect July 1, will limit future commission members to three consecutive four-year terms, require utilities to notify customers of the best available rates and prevent electric utilities from charging higher rates through extensions of billing cycles.

The legislation also could result in $600 million in savings for Duke Energy Florida customers over the next 20 years. That part of the bill will allow Duke to issue "securitization" bonds to pay off costs related to the decommissioned Crystal River nuclear plant. The move would lower interest rates, providing savings that would translate to reduced costs for consumers.

The "Right to Try Act" focuses on drugs that have been through what is known as "phase 1" of a clinical trial but have not been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Patients with terminal conditions could have access to the experimental drugs, and the bill would provide liability protections to doctors and drug manufacturers.

Another newly signed law (HB 41) known as "Gabby's Law for Student Safety," revises how "hazardous walking conditions" are identified and handled. The law will allow district superintendents to make formal requests to the government agencies with jurisdiction over roads to correct the hazards. The government agencies would have to include the work in their next annual 5-year capital improvements programs or declare why the corrections aren't being planned.

Among the new laws are a number of locally specific bills. They include measures that make it possible to kite board in a city park near an airport in Jacksonville (HB 725), allow nonprofits in Pinellas County to get temporary permits to sell alcohol (HB 1337), and provide additional land for a new spring training complex in West Palm Beach for the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals (HB 1213).