This week Donald Trump said something that has many terminally ill patients applauding the president.
Meeting with pharmaceutical executives at the White House on Tuesday, Trump signaled that he would be pushing for some significant changes, including altering Food and Drug Administration regulations to allow smaller drug companies to compete with larger companies.
Related, here is what the president said that has given new hope to many suffering from terminal illnesses, as reported by the Boston Globe’s health-oriented website STAT: “Trump, in his opening remarks, also touched on two other issues: pushing companies to do more manufacturing in the United States and particularly focusing on getting drugs more quickly to patients with terminal illnesses. Congressional Republicans have introduced a so-called “right-to-try” bill and many experts in Washington believe Trump’s FDA could go along with such a proposal.”
“One thing that’s always disturbed me: They come up with a new drug for a patient who’s terminal, and the FDA says we can’t … approve the drug, because we don’t want to hurt the patient,” President Trump said on Tuesday. “But the patient is not going to live more than four weeks, [anyway]. So, we’re going to be changing a lot of the rules.”
Right to Try laws — which allow doctors to prescribe medication awaiting FDA approval to terminally ill patients on a trial basis — have now been passed in 31 states.
“You may not have heard about these laws,” columnist Michael Barone wrote in 2015. “But you may have heard a lot if a loved one or Facebook friend is facing advanced cancer or ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and cannot obtain medicine that might alleviate symptoms or extend life because it has not gained final approval from the Food and Drug Administration.”
Trump’s recent statements are giving the terminally ill new hope.
The Washington Free Beacon reports, “Terminally ill patients are fortunate to have a compassionate champion in President Trump,’ said Josh Schisler, founder and president of Freedom of Treatment, in an email. ‘Americans fighting for their lives don’t have decades to wait for the FDA to approve new treatments.”
The Free Beacon continued:
“It’s obvious there’s something that President Trump knows and it shows he’s showing compassion,” said Missouri state Rep. Jim Neely (R.) in a phone interview. Neely, a physician, sponsored “Right to Try” legislation in Missouri in 2014.
For Neely, Right to Try took on a personal meaning. His 40-year-old daughter, Kristina, was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer. She died without access to experimental drugs because she didn’t qualify for clinical trials.
“I see phenomenal medications that are working. There was a drug for congestive heart failure five years ago,” Neely said. While that drug is now available, it was not available before final FDA approval despite its amazing results.
“I’m all in and I applaud President Trump for his proactive action,” Neely said.
This effort has largely been spearheaded by the libertarian think tank The Goldwater Institute, which features on their website a 2015 video about 6-year-old Jordan McLinn who suffers from a deadly form of muscular dystrophy. Jordan became the face of the Right to Try campaign in Indiana.
Jordan’s mother, Laura McLinn, reacted to Trump’s statements this week in an email to the Free Beacon, “To hear President Trump talk about the importance of lowering drug costs and helping terminally ill patients access drugs more quickly was probably one of the best things I’ve heard in two years. And I believe if anyone can make that happen … he can.”
Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence could have had an influence on his views concerning relaxing these drug restrictions.
In 2015, Indiana Governor Pence signed Right to Try into law after the legislation unanimously passed the state legislature. “I’ve signed this today with a prayer that the right to try will be a pathway toward healing for Hoosiers for generations to come,” Pence said at the time.
This potential switch in policy has meant a lot to the families with loved ones suffering.
“It’s a good feeling when everything you’ve worked for for so long is recognized as being important,” Laura McLinn said to the Free Beacon. “And for it to be recognized by the president of the United States … wow.”