Arizonans gain ‘Right to Try’ to save their lives


By Matthew Hayes

Amid Nv. 4’s election excitement, Arizonans overwhelmingly approved their “Right to Try” referendum, allowing terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs that have completed basic FDA safety testing but are still awaiting further approval.

With 78 percent of the vote, Arizona becomes the fifth state to pass Right to Try legislation this year. Momentum is building with wide bipartisan support. Is there any reason for opposition?

RIGHT TO TRY: Arizonans approved the “Right to Try” referendum, which will allow terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs.

Opponents worry that Right to Try may harm the drug development process by pushing patients away from clinical trials. One way to deal with this concern is the Colorado approach, which requires patients be ineligible for trials in order to participate in Right to Try.

More troubling, critics fear Right to Try takes advantage of vulnerable patients. They worry the terminally ill may choose options that are not in their best interest and that may ultimately lead to an early death.

Right to Try isn’t a magic bullet, though. It doesn’t guarantee a cure, nor is it free from risk.

What it offers is a choice when all other options have failed. Oregon already offers terminally ill patients the choice to end their lives under the Death with Dignity Act. If you can choose to die, shouldn’t you be able to choose to fight to live?

Matthew Hayes is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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