Philadelphia Inquirer Op-ed Educates Patients, Highlights Physician Concerns Over Right-to-Try

October 19, 2017

On Thursday, October 19, The Philadelphia Inquirer published an op-ed by ASCO President Bruce E. Johnson, MD, FASCO, and Marilyn J. Heine, MD, legislative chair of the Pennsylvania Society of Oncology and Hematology (PSOH) on Pennsylvania’s new right-to-try (RTT) law. The op-ed highlights physician concerns with RTT laws and aims to educate patients with cancer in Pennsylvania about considerations when opting to seek access to an investigational drug through the state’s new law.

Pennsylvania joins 37 other states in enacting RTT legislation, but the authors state that the way to truly improve patient access to non-traditional treatments is to improve the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) expanded-access program known as "compassionate use.” Key program improvements have already begun, including a provision in federal law that will simplify access to investigational drugs in the FDA program and a new tool to guide patients and physicians through the expanded access process and other treatment options.

Drs. Johnson and Heine note that “unlike the FDA program that has important patient protections in place, the Pennsylvania measure fails to protect patients adequately and does not actually address obstacles that patients face in accessing investigational drugs outside of clinical trials.”

Earlier this year, ASCO issued a position statement on access to investigational drugs. The statement asserts that RTT laws interfere with already-streamlined and effective expanded access protocols and potentially put patients at high risk without a clear benefit.

Read the full op-ed.

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