Lawmakers Come Together to Pass Right-to-Try Legislation in Augusta

Prescription medication spilling from an open bottle. This macro shot shows caplets or pills in the opening of a medicine bottle with other standing bottles out of focus in the background. The photo includes open space for your copy.

Amidst all of the disagreement over controversial issues such as welfare reform and Medicaid expansion in Augusta this week, Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate came together to pass Right-to-Try legislation, giving the nod for Maine to join this growing humanitarian movement.

Sponsored by Representative Thomas Longstaff (D) and Senator Eric Brakey (R), Legislative Document 180 would recognize the right of terminally-ill patients and their physicians to choose the best course of action regarding the quality of their lives and the direction of treatment.

As previously reported by The Maine Wire, while the need for drug safety is essential, the process for FDA approval in this country is wrought with bureaucracy, road blocks and red tape that erect insurmountable barriers and prohibit potentially life-saving drugs from ever making it to consumers.

Even though the FDA has stated that they are “committed to streamlining the process” to allow terminally-ill patients access to certain medications that are in the process of obtaining FDA approval, many states around the country have taken matters into their own hands by passing Right-to-Try legislation to send a clear message to Washington, D.C.

Representative Karl Ward (R), a co-sponsor of LD 180, testified in favor of this important legislation, urging legislators to think back to a time they lost someone they loved to illness. He asked if legislators “… remember when it became apparent that they were going to die? They had fought hard and it had taken a terrible physical toll. They wanted to keep living. They wanted to keep trying.”

That is what this legislation is all about. Giving those who have no other options access to drugs that have undergone enough FDA approval to be considered safe, but are not yet available to the general public, with the consent of a medical professional.

Republicans and Democrats both agree that it is not right to allow unnecessary red tape and road blocks to limit potential life-saving treatments for Mainers who are dying. This legislation, once approved by the Governor, will give terminally-ill Mainers the right to continue to try living.

If Governor LePage signs this legislation into law, Maine will become the 25th state to join this growing humanitarian effort.


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