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Jeff Brandes files bill to allow dying patients to try unapproved medications

In the past year, states such as Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Louisiana, and Arizona have passed laws to give critically ill patients the right to try medications that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Jeff Brandes wants Florida to be the next such state to pass what are known as “Right to Try” laws.

The St. Petersburg Republican state senator on Thursday filed SB 1052, the Florida Right to Try Act, which would allow patients with a life-limiting illness to seek treatment from experimental medications.

“Often lifesaving medication can take years, or decades, to be approved through the Food and Drug Administration, and every year Floridians die while medications are stuck in the red tape of the approval process,” Brandes said in a prepared statement. “I believe Floridians have the right to try experimental treatments that could extend or provide a better quality of life.”

Sarasota Republican Ray Pillon will sponsor the measure in the House. “I am very pleased to be partnering with Senator Brandes on this extremely important bill,” he said. “One which we feel will provide choices for possible life saving drugs for the most needed individuals who have otherwise no hope left.”

The legislation will allow a terminally ill patient to purchase medication that has successfully completed phase one of a clinical trial but has not yet been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, at the recommendation of their physician or with the informed consent of the patient. The bill makes clear that a medication that fails to proceed through the FDA process is excluded from the scope of the legislation.

According to The New York Times, at least nine other states in addition to Florida will be voting on “Right to Try” laws this year.

A federal appeals court ruled in 2007 that patients do not have a constitutional right to medicines that are not federally approved. The next year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of that ruling, thus leaving it to the states to pass such laws.

The legislation has been strongly advocated for by the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think-tank.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at

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