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Jeff Brandes’ Right to Try Act heads to governor’s desk

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A compassionate bill aimed at patients suffering from terminal illnesses is on its way to the governor’s desk. The Right to Try Act by St. Petersburg state Sen. Jeff Brandes earned broad support in the committee stops and has been approved by both chambers.

Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign the bill into law.

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 in an earlier interview. “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.”

Physician approval or informed consent would be required for patients seeking experimental medications.

Certain drugs failing to make it through the FDA’s process due to lack of efficacy would be excluded under the law.

The bill also addresses end of life options. It adopts Physician Orders for Life Sustaining 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 when he filed the bill he was opposed to such measures.

A companion bill moved through the House. That bill was filed by Ray Pilon.

Once signed, Florida will join eight states with Right to Try laws already on the books. According to Brandes’ staff, similar laws are on the table in 20 other states.

The Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think-tank, has endorsed this kind of legislation in the past.

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 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

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