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Jeff Brandes’ ‘Right to Try Act’ clears Health Policy committee

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A compassionate bill aimed at patients suffering from terminal illnesses pushed its way through the Senate Committee on Health Policy today. The Right to Try Act by St. Petersburg state Sen. Jeff Brandes earned broad support in the committee.

The law would allow dying patients to access experimental medical treatments that have passed a Phase One Clinical Trial, but have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Floridians deserve to have access to medical treatments that could extend or improve the quality of their lives,” Brandes said. “It often takes three years or longer for medications to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. We can save lives by speeding up access to these treatments for patients who don’t have other options available, and I look forward to strong bipartisan support of this legislation.”

Patients seeking experimental medications would have to have the permission of their doctor or provide their own informed consent.

Drugs that fail to make it through the FDA’s process due to lack of efficacy would be excluded from experimental medications allowed under the law.

The bill also adopts Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment to help patients plan ahead for end of life treatment.

The bill does not provide a means for assisted suicide as has been done in some states for terminally ill patients. In a previous interview, Brandes told FloridaPolitics.com he was opposed to such measures.

Brandes’ Senate Bill 1052 is joined by a similar bill filed in the House by Ray Pilon.

If approved, the law would join eight states that already have Right to Try laws in place. According to Brandes’ staff, similar laws are on the table in 20 other states.

This type of legislation has been endorsed by the Libertarian think-tank, the Goldwater Institute.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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