Indiana Governor Signs 'Right To Try' Drug Bill Into Law

By McCarton Ackerman 04/03/15

While the country disputes the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Governor Pence has passed a bill that gives renewed hope to the terminally ill.


It takes an average of 15 years and up to $1 billion for a new drug to make it through the FDA’s process, but Indiana’s approval of a “right to try” law will allow terminally ill patients to bypass this and gain access to experimental drugs that could save their lives.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the bill into law on Tuesday, joining five other states with similar measures on the books including Michigan, Missouri and Colorado. Physicians in the state can now legally prescribe a drug that has made it through just the first phase of the FDA’s three-phase clinical trial process. The Phase 1 stage is usually a trial consisting of 20-80 healthy patients that helps evaluate safety and potential side effects.

 "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," said Pence.

For those who don’t live in "right to try" states, enrolling in a clinical trial for an experimental drug is often the best available option. However, many factors prohibit the majority of applicants from being approved including pre-existing medical conditions, age and geographic location. Patients can also directly apply to the FDA through their “compassionate use” program, which has received nearly 6,000 applications in the last four years.

Wyoming could soon become the next state to add this groundbreaking law after the state’s Senate committee approved a "right to try" drug bill for terminally ill patients last January. It must now pass two more votes in the Senate in order to advance to the House of Representatives. In addition to experimental drugs not approved by the FDA for general use, Wyoming’s bill will allow the use of drugs approved by any nation in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which includes the U.K., France and Japan. 

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.