(Detroit News Watch/CNN) — With a House of Representatives vote Tuesday, Congress passed legislation that could give terminally ill patients a way to independently seek drugs that are still experimental and not fully approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
The House voted 250-169 in favor of the bill, which the Senate passed in August. The bill will now be sent to President Trump, who is expected to sign it.
“This is an extraordinarily great day,” Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, one of the original cosponsors of the bill, said in a press conference after the event. Donnelly said he met with Vice President Mike Pence a few weeks ago and urged him to push for a House vote on the bill.
After a failed attempt, the House passed its own version of the bill in March after making changes to the Senate bill, which would have required the Senate to vote anew. But House Republicans announced a change of course last week, saying they would vote on the Senate bill.
“It is time for the House to do what Senate Democrats won’t and send a right-to-try bill to the President’s desk, bringing hope to terminally-ill patients across the country,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden said in a statement Thursday, when the vote was announced.
The bill gives terminally ill patients the right to seek drug treatments that remain in clinical trials and have passed phase one of the FDA’s approval process, but have not been fully approved.
Advocates for the legislation say it opens a door for terminally ill people in states that haven’t passed such a law. Critics argue that the legislation disempowers the FDA and won’t make it easier for terminally ill people to access these drugs.
Trump has expressed his support for right-to-try legislation and is expected to sign the measure into law.
“We also believe that patients with terminal conditions should have access to experimental treatments that could potentially save their lives,” he said in his 2018 State of the Union address. “It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful Americans the ‘right to try.’ ”
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