Experimental Drugs Fair Game for Terminally Ill

By May 25, 2015Laws, Nevada

It seems like states are legalizing marijuana left and right throughout the country. For the moment, though, Las Vegas appears content with its current list of vices on the menu. However, the Nevada Assembly has recently made a landmark decision regarding drug use that could affect the lives of many throughout the state.

Experimental Drugs as a Last Resort

Lawmakers unanimously passed a bill that drew bipartisan support for allowing terminally ill patients to use experimental drugs to treat their ailments as a last resort. This makes the state the 15th in the country that will be implementing what’s known as a “right-to-try” law.

North Dakota was the most recent to do so, but Oklahoma and Illinois are both looking at measures to do the same in the very near future. Some 20 other states have either looked at or are set to look at this kind of reform.

In Nevada, the bill is now headed to the Senate. Advocates are touting it as a law that will bolster the rights of patients.
Parameters of This New Law

If passed, AB 164 would let terminal patients—those who doctors don’t believe will live another year—use experimental drugs as a last effort at curing their disease. However, there are parameters.

For one thing, the drugs must be administered by a doctor. Aside from being considered terminal, doctors must also decide that no other drug approved by the FDA will help the individual with their ailment. Obviously, the patient must consent to using such drugs, as well.

Approved Drugs

A big part of the bill is that doctors and drug manufacturers would be considered exempt from any liability. This is important for two reasons. First, as we mentioned, doctors have to make the call on whether or not a patient can take experimental drugs and then administer them. Second, these drugs have to come from a company. While they must have passed the initial stage of FDA testing, that’s obviously a long way from saying they’re safe.

That first stage of testing only assesses a drug’s toxicity level. While that’s certainly important, it doesn’t mean the drug is free of harmful effects. The following stages could take up to 15 years, though, too long for a terminally ill patient to wait.

Currently, there is actually an exemption in place for patients who want to try non-FDA-approved drugs. The problem, though, is that doctors and authorities would need to fill out over 100 hours worth of paperwork. AB 164 would give patients a fast lane for getting the help they need.

At the moment there are more than 650,000 cancer patients in this country with a terminal diagnosis. Thousands more are facing the same, just with a different disease. The popularity of this bill in Nevada and other states prove to policy coordinators like Craig Handzlik that Americans want a better option for those who are suffering.

Despite well over half-a-million terminal cancer patients, the FDA only approved 1,000 last year for experimental treatments. If AB 164 passes, a lot of people here in Las Vegas and Nevada as a whole will have access to their best shot at living.

Bighorn Staff

About Bighorn Staff