Governor Signs ‘Right To Try’ Legislation, But Future Of Practice Remains Uncertain

Gov. Tom Wolf speaking with Mark Bortman in Newtown in April.
Credit: Tom Sofield/

Earlier this month, Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill which has the potential to fill terminally ill people with hope. “Right to Try” legislation has become the law in Pennsylvania.

According to a press release put out by the Democratic governor’s office, the bill gives terminally ill patients the ability to try drugs that have not been fully approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA.) The bill was passed unanimously in both the state house and the state senate.

The governor’s office went on to state that eligible participants “are those with a terminal illness attested to by their treating physician, unable to participate in a clinical trial, who have a recommendation from their physician to try the investigational product, and have given full informed consent.”

“I have supported and will continue to support legislation that gives patients power in their health care decisions,”  Wolf said. “At no time is that more important than when faced with a terminal illness. Having the chance to try all options can offer hope and better quality of life for many.”

A local group, headed by Jim Worthington of the Newtown Athletic Club, has been lobbying for a similar bill at the federal level. According to the businessman, none of the states that have passed similar bills have resulted in drugs being dispensed to patients in need. Until a big federal shift, Worthington explained, the bill is mostly ceremonial.

At the federal level, Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick has been a champion of the legislation currently sitting in the house. The movement was started at the federal level by former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, but Brian picked up right where Mike left off.

According to Worthington, President Donald Trump already agreed to sign a “Right to Try” bill if it comes across his desk. The Senate passed the bill unanimously and the bill is in committee in the House.

Worthington and his organization, Have A Heart, have been hard at work lobbying lawmakers for the legislation.

“It’s a grassroots movement by a handful of people,” Worthington said. “This is really democracy in action.”

About the author

Erich Martin

Erich Martin attended Bucks County Community College for two years where he was the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Centurion, the college newspaper. Erich is currently attending Temple University in order to complete his degree in Journalism. Erich was recognized at the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation's Keystone Press Awards in 2014 for general news. In downtime, Erich enjoys spending time with friends and family. Aside from spending time with family and reporting news, Erich loves getting engrossed in a great game, book, or movie.