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Wishes At the End of Life

March 27, 2018

Comparing the right to try and right to die

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At first glance, a bill passed by the House of Representatives this week seems like the kind of thing anyone could get behind. It would allow terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs without the approval of the FDA. But the bill and a similar one passed last summer by the Senate do little to address the main barrier that patients face in getting unapproved treatments: permission from the drug companies themselves

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Opponents say the bill undermines the Food and Drug Administration’s existing compassionate use program while giving false hope to dying patients

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A key Republican lawmaker released a new version of so-called “right to try” legislation around midnight Friday, a pivotal next step in the effort to help dying patients get access to experimental therapies

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Five years ago, the phrase “right to try” wasn’t yet an inkling in the minds of its staunchest advocates. Today, the pithy shorthand for the campaign to get dying patients access to experimental treatments has been slapped on bumper stickers, emblazoned on T-shirts, and uttered by some of the most powerful figures in Washington

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David Kroll writes, “In 1984, when I was a junior in college and my sister a junior in high school, my then-44-year-old mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. I would have done anything for her then, and continued to do so until she died on Dec. 9, 2017, in her bed at her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, some 33 years after her initial diagnosis.”

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First, make sure the FDA stays involved

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