A patient in California with aggressive brain cancer is being treated under the new Right to Try law.
According to the Goldwater Institute, the patient was diagnosed with recurrent glioblastoma, and FDA-approved therapies have been unsuccessful at treating this deadly and aggressive form of brain cancer. One treatment, a vaccine known as ERC1671, has shown promise in clinical trials, but this patient had not qualified for the ongoing trial for the treatment. The investigational vaccine is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials.
"The great news is that last summer, President Trump signed the Right to Try law, which allows patients who've run out of options, who don't qualify for a clinical trial, and whose lives hang in the balance, to seek to obtain medical treatments that are under FDA clinical review," says Naomi Lopez Bauman of the Goldwater Institute, which developed Right to Try. "Hopefully it works for them, but they at least know that they've tried everything they can to save their life, if that's the course that they wish to pursue."
One of the frequent criticisms of Right to Try is that it's dangerous. However, Bauman points out this is being done under the doctor's advice.
"It is being done with the patient wanting to seek additional treatment and it is being done with the agreement of the manufacturer," she continues. "So there are protections in place, and this example is exactly how Right to Try is intended to work."
Bauman adds that many patients with this type of cancer do not recover, and desperate patients will sometimes go to other countries where the quality of care is questionable.
"So the more the safe avenues are cut off, patients will do even more dangerous things to try to save their lives," she says. "It is really heartening to see that a physician who wants to save the patient's life is able to do so without so much red tape. There is no reason why a physician who is in good standing [and] who understands the illness and the treatment should have to beg the federal government for permission to try to get it for their patient."
Right to Try was developed by the Goldwater Institute and works in tandem with the current FDA approval process.