Houston Matters

Should Terminally Ill Patients Have the Right to Try Unproven Drugs?

The FDA currently has an exemption that allows terminally ill patients to have access to drugs that are still in the clinical trial phase but have yet to be approved. However, the process to get what’s called “compassionate use” is lengthy and arduous. But a proposed bill in the Texas Legislature would make it easier […]

The FDA currently has an exemption that allows terminally ill patients to have access to drugs that are still in the clinical trial phase but have yet to be approved. However, the process to get what’s called “compassionate use” is lengthy and arduous.

But a proposed bill in the Texas Legislature would make it easier for terminally ill patients to have access to experimental drugs. Five states have already approved what are known as right-to-try laws, with a few other states considering similar measures.

Supporters say terminally ill patients should have access to potentially life-saving medication. But critics argue these laws set a low bar for patient safety and could endanger patients.

We discuss the ethical issues surrounding “right-to-try” in Texas with Dr. Eugene Boisaubin, a medical ethicist at the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics at the UTHealth Science Center at Houston.

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