Right to Try Act to Help Terminally Ill

HB 1335, co-sponsored by Representatives David Harris and John Anthony, affects patients who have been diagnosed with conditions that, in the absence of additional treatment, are likely to result in death. Under current law, health providers cannot prescribe or provide investigational drugs, biological products, or medical devices to Illinois patients until the items in these categories have been fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – a time-consuming process that often takes many years. The Right to Try Act gives medical professionals the right to prescribe or provide items in these categories to members of this group of patients if they are very ill, and shields these medical care providers and professionals from professional discipline based on these unapproved medical products.

The classes of unapproved pharmaceuticals and medical products that are made available by this Act are limited to goods that have successfully completed Phase I of a medical trial. Phase I products include drugs and chemicals that have been administered to patients with a preliminary positive correlation in the patients’ status or outcome. In many cases, Phase I products have severe side effects or are not fully understood, and extensive additional Phase II and Phase III studies are typically required before a new drug or new product can be approved for marketing.

HB 1335 was signed into law (Public Act 97-270) on Wednesday, August 5. The House vote earlier this year to pass the bill was 114-1-1. Similar bills have become law in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, and other states.