In the wake of President Donald J. Trump having signed the “Right to Try Act” into law, mesothelioma patients, their family members and advocates are struggling to assess whether the action represents a step forward or the introduction of greater risk for those facing the terminal form of cancer.
The law provides patients diagnosed with a fatal illness with a fast track to medications that have not yet received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The law also protects both physicians who refer them to the drugs and the companies that manufacture them from taking legal action, in the event patients experience any type of personal injury.
Patients who have mesothelioma are given little hope for long-term survival. Though there are specific protocols in place for its treatment and a long list of experimental treatments being tested in clinical trials in the United States and around the world, there has been no new medication approved specifically for its treatment since 2004 when the chemotherapeutic drug was approved.
Patients often submit to a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, with the specific course of action determined by the type of mesothelioma that they have, its cell type, and the patient’s overall health and personal wishes.
Opening the door to obtaining medications that have not yet been thoroughly tested for either safety or efficacy offers hope, but some of those hopes may be false, and may even lead to patients getting worse instead of better.
Though mesothelioma patients and others diagnosed with fatal illnesses have often bemoaned the length of time that it takes for a drug to come to market, health advocates argue that the approval process is long for a reason: it is meant to guard against adverse effects that taking an unproven drug can have.
Still, the FDA has previously allowed what was known as a “compassionate use” provision that permitted use of unapproved drugs following submission of an application and FDA review. The FDA reports that almost all of those applications have been granted approval, though few patients have availed themselves of the opportunity.
Those who favor the Right to Try Act believe that the new law will make the process more accessible and less burdensome.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you need information on any of the treatments that are available, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today to learn more. We can be reached at 1-800-692-8608.