‘Right To Try’ Legislation Heads To President’s Desk

President Donald Trump speaking Wednesday just outside Harrisburg.
Credit: Staff Sgt. Tony Harp/U.S. Air National Guard

After a 250-169 vote by the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday evening, the The Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act is heading to President Donald Trump’s desk for his review.

Trump, who is expected to sign the bill, has been supportive of the “Right To Try” effort that would open up under development treatments for terminally ill patients before they have completed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process.

Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick has worked on the legislation since taking office in January 2017. Vice President Mike Pence has also been supportive of the legislation along with Democratic and Republican members of congress.

“After years of debate, the House of Representatives sent the President a bipartisan bill that gives American patients and families facing an unimaginable situation the opportunity to fight for their lives or for the lives of their loved ones. For those patients caught between the traditional drug approval delays, a clinical trial process for which they do not qualify, and limited time, the Right to Try gives patients, like Matt Bellina and Frank Mongiello, a new pathway to potentially lifesaving treatments,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement Tuesday.

Northampton father and military veteran Matt Bellina has advocated for Right To Try over the years.

“I have no illusion that this will solve the entire problem but it is absolutely a step in the right direction and a step we need to take now. I know that it is probably too late for me, and I have made my peace with that. I need to know before I die that if my children find themselves in this unenviable position, that this nation that I proudly served will respect their liberties and their right to make their own decisions about their medical treatments,” Bellina said during testimony before a House committee last year.

“It is with great excitement and satisfaction that we traveled to Washington D.C. on Tuesday, May 22nd to see Right to Try go to a vote in the House of Representatives. I speak on behalf of not only myself, but also Linda Mitchell at the NAC and, of course, Matt and Caitlin Bellina who have been among the most effective patient advocate voices on ‘the Hill’ for Right to Try over the past two years,” Jim Worthington, owner of the Newtown Athletic Club and a Right To Try Advocate, said.

Despite passing the House and Senate, there have been some concerns raised about Right To Try.

“Despite good intentions – and the legislation’s name – right to try legislation grants no rights. It would merely grant permission for a patient to try to get experimental medication from a pharmaceutical company,” academic lecturer Morten Wendelbo and Texas A&M Assistant Professor Timothy Callaghan wrote earlier this year. 

“Patients would be allowed to try experimental drugs, but nothing in the legislation would make it mandatory for pharmaceutical companies to provide these medications,” he said.

About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for five years for both newspaper and online publications. In 2012, Tom was honored at the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation's Keystone Press Awards for his coverage of President Obama's visit to Falls Township in 2011. When he's not covering news in the area, Tom enjoys checking out the newest restaurants and bars, exploring forgotten places of industry in the area, going to local parks and spending time with his friends and family. If there's one thing you should know about Tom, he is a local news junkie through and through. Email: Phone: 215-431-1001