What Gov. Jerry Brown’s Veto of “Right to Try” Means for California’s Terminally Ill Patients

 

1401317421000-OLSENEvery year, more than 60,000 Californians die of heart disease, the nation’s leading killer. Another 55,000 die of cancer, and more than 7,000 die of Alzheimer’s. But these are more than just statistics. These are our parents, siblings, relatives, and friends. For far too many, they run out of time waiting for a breakthrough drug or treatment.

That is why it was so troubling that Gov. Jerry Brown slammed the door shut on protecting terminally ill Californians’ right to try to save their own lives. To date, 24 states have a Right to Try law, which provides an important avenue for terminally ill patients to access potentially life-saving treatments.

Had the California Right to Try law been approved, terminally ill patients under the care of their physician, who had exhausted all treatment options and who did not qualify for a clinical trial would have been permitted to seek treatments that had successfully completed basic safety testing and continued to be part of the FDA’s ongoing approval process.

But no sooner had the ink dried on Gov. Brown’s signature approving the state’s highly-controversial Right to Die bill, he vetoed AB 159, the California Right to Try Act. And he did so despite the fact that the legislation had almost unanimous bipartisan support from both legislative chambers.

In approving the Right to Die bill, Gov. Brown stated, “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”

One is left wondering why the Governor would not extend the same protection to dying patients who want the opportunity to possibly spend more time with their loved ones or, no matter how remote, a chance to be cured.

In his veto message, Gov. Brown wrote: “Before authorizing an alternative state pathway, we should give this federal expedited process a chance to work.” But time is what these terminally ill patients don’t have. And just how much longer does the Governor believe the federal government should be given?

The FDA’s past track record of not keeping pace with medical technology and innovation is already decades-long. This is a crucial point given that many patient advocates lament that the FDA approval process is needlessly slow and costly, both in terms of dollars and the lives lost while waiting for these treatments.

Take, for example, ALS. There are about 60 medicines in development to treat this devastating disease, but there hasn’t been a single FDA approval in the past ten years. And there are other examples.

There are 19 medicines in development to treat sickle cell disease, but there hasn’t been a single FDA approval in the past ten years. There are 41 medicines in development to treat small cell lung cancer, but none has been approved in the past decade. There are five drugs to treat breast cancer that are available in Europe but are still awaiting approval in the US.

The promise of new drug treatments to extend or save lives is cause for celebration, but terminally ill patients can’t afford to wait. The California Right to Try law would not have been a silver bullet for patient access to potentially lifesaving treatments, but it would have been an important first step in clearing an imposing obstacle standing in the way of patients: the slow and costly FDA drug approval process.

The best path for one terminally ill patient will be different for another and should be based on that patient’s desires and preferences using medical guidance. That is why it is so puzzling that Gov. Brown would protect a terminally ill patient’s choice to terminate his life but not protect a patient wishing to save it.

Simply put, Gov. Brown finds it acceptable that terminally ill patients should continue to beg the federal government to save their own lives.

There are 15 comments.

  1. Thatcher

    Naomi,

    Just amazing isn’t it. An adult with the aid of the most highly trained consultant in our society, a licensed physician, should not be allowed to make their own decisions. Meanwhile, Governor Moonbeam drags California further behind the eight ball with his lunatic super train and incredibly stupid water & energy policies.

    We shouldn’t go around inventing new rights. However, with this level of callous stupidity pitted against the ordinary person there really is no other choice. I’m 100% for “The Right to Try”.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #1
    • November 10, 2015 at 1:34 pm
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  2. Thatcher

    What it means is that the terminally ill will have to go out of state if they want to try.

    • #2
    • November 10, 2015 at 2:02 pm
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  3. Member

    Thank you for covering an issue that the media likes to ignore. The Democrats’ opposition to over-the-counter birth control is another example. Governor Brown’s decisions are too predictable. End-of-life treatments cost a lot more than a bottle of horse tranquilizers, so Big Government is more than happy to help. Allowing the terminally ill to try experimental treatments not strictly regulated be the government, even at their own expense, would challenge the authority and efficacy of the regulatory regime and must be stopped, no matter how humane and reasonable. It is time for a ballot initiative.

    • #3
    • November 10, 2015 at 2:45 pm
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  4. Member

    But why? What interests are jerking his chain? I do not understand the opposition to this, but then I’d close the place down.

    • #4
    • November 10, 2015 at 2:55 pm
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  5. Reagan
    iWe

    There is no logical reason why “Right to Try” should be limited to terminally ill patients.

    It is a basic issue of freedom: We should be able to opt out of regulatory and legal remedies for tort, assume our own liability, and try anything we want.

    I think at some level the government understands that this is a slippery slope. We are all going to die, after all – just on different timelines and trajectories. So if they allow “Right to Try” then it should, over time, threaten the entire raison d’etre for the FDA.

    • #5
    • November 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm
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  6. Member

    The title of Ramesh Ponnuru’s book comes to mind, “The Party of Death”

    • #6
    • November 10, 2015 at 3:47 pm
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  7. Inactive

    I try to be a loving, Christian person, but I detest Jerry Brown. I call him Governor Death.

    • #7
    • November 10, 2015 at 5:42 pm
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  8. Inactive

    It’s ironic that Marijuana legalization has made more gains around the country.

    • #8
    • November 10, 2015 at 5:50 pm
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  9. Member

    Could not a terminally ill or physically debilitated patient elect to use an experimental drug as his or her method to end their life? Could not an argument be made that even though I might die in discomfort and pain, that I would choose to prolong that condition to have more time with my loved ones or to pave a trail for effective treatment?

    The challenge to dealing with death and debilitating illness is to us who are healthy. By allowing a right to die or denying those with catastrophic illness, we bail out on our humanity to minister to the dying and the severely ill. Giving people the choice to take untried and experimental medications and being with them through that process seems to be the more humane and life affirming act.

    I struggle to understand this belief called progressivism.

    • #9
    • November 10, 2015 at 7:17 pm
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  10. Inactive

    iWe:There is no logical reason why “Right to Try” should be limited to terminally ill patients.

    It is a basic issue of freedom: We should be able to opt out of regulatory and legal remedies for tort, assume our own liability, and try anything we want.

    I think at some level the government understands that this is a slippery slope. We are all going to die, after all – just on different timelines and trajectories. So if they allow “Right to Try” then it should, over time, threaten the entire raison d’etre for the FDA.

    And there you have it. Only the uber class of Big Gov bureaucrats are qualified or competent to make the decisions of how we live our lives. Micro-managing our lives is their obligation and their right.

    • #10
    • November 10, 2015 at 8:31 pm
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  11. Thatcher

    Liberals in general prefer people to die (population control, abortion, legal drugs, euthanasia), than to live. Their whole ethos presents human beings as a blot on the planet, and the fewer of them around, the better. They should be required to go first.

    • #11
    • November 10, 2015 at 8:53 pm
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  12. Inactive

    RushBabe49:Liberals in general prefer people to die (population control, abortion, legal drugs, euthanasia), than to live. Their whole ethos presents human beings as a blot on the planet, and the fewer of them around, the better. They should be required to go first.

    Because fewer humans are better for the environement. Also, more for them.

    • #12
    • November 11, 2015 at 6:20 am
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  13. Inactive

    To the left, there’s really no such thing as an adult, at least not how we think of one to be. No individual can be trusted to make decisions about his life over the declarations of a bureaucrat hundreds of miles away who they will never meet.

    • #13
    • November 11, 2015 at 10:31 am
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  14. Thatcher

    RushBabe49:Liberals in general prefer people to die (population control, abortion, legal drugs, euthanasia), than to live. Their whole ethos presents human beings as a blot on the planet, and the fewer of them around, the better. They should be required to go first.

    You nailed it.

    • #14
    • November 11, 2015 at 10:53 am
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  15. Inactive

    zepplinmike:To the left, there’s really no such thing as an adult, at least not how we think of one to be. No individual can be trusted to make decisions about his life over the declarations of a bureaucrat hundreds of miles away who they will never meet.

    the only thing I would change is “declarations of a bureaucrat” to “declarations of an expert”

    The facts indicate that many people who try experimental treatments will still die of there disease. However, they should be given the opportunity to try, particularly before the disease process becomes so advanced they really have little chance at benefit. The experts think they know the risk/benefits for all, and simply refuse to see people as individuals with individual needs, preferences and tolerance for risk.

    • #15
    • November 12, 2015 at 4:58 am
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