California Gov. Jerry Brown's veto last week of a “right-to-try” bill disappointed advocates who want more state laws allowing terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs.
Since the spring of 2014, 24 states have enacted right-to-try laws that promise to help dying patients cut through bureaucratic red tape to get drugs not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
But a Modern Healthcare survey found no evidence of any patients receiving an experimental therapy as a result of the new statutes, so far. A spokeswoman for the Louisiana State Medical Society said the organization has received only two requests from patients seeking information.
Officials in other states said they have not been contacted by physicians, who would by law be the ones asking pharmaceutical companies for the drugs. Also, no state has yet created the policies or infrastructure to help doctors navigate the right-to-try option. States say they're working on it.
Some see the lack of action as proof that the laws are based more on politics than helping patients. The libertarian organization behind the campaign says this is only the beginning.
“There are numerous people around the country who are getting ready and preparing,” said Kurt Altman, director of national affairs for the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute. The institute helped draft the right-to-try bills for state legislatures, which were more open to the legislation than Congress.