Mary Vought: Fighting coronavirus — 'Right-to-try' law can help us beat COVID-19

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Frequently lost in the current debate surrounding hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine — should these drugs be used as treatments for the coronavirus? — is the fundamental principle of giving hope to individuals with life-threatening diseases.

The emergency use authorization granted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for these two drugs provides one such avenue to give patients hope, as does key legislation signed into law two years ago by President Donald Trump.

In May of 2018, thanks to the dedicated efforts of Trump administration officials, the president signed the federal “Right-to-Try Act.” This law allows individuals with terminal illnesses to obtain drugs that have not yet completed the three phases of trials needed for FDA approval.

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As long as the drug has passed the first phase of safety review, patients, in consultation with their medical advisers, have the ability to try a new medical treatment. For many of these individuals, access to new therapies could represent the difference between life and death.

With the world fighting a new, and deadly, pandemic, patients around the globe understandably want to pursue every possible therapeutic option for a virus that, at present, lacks a known cure or treatment. The Right-to-Try law provides a framework for American patients to access those critical options in consultation with their physicians.

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As the mother of a daughter with cystic fibrosis, my heart goes out to the families of coronavirus victims looking for something — anything — that can help their loved ones. Like many, I can empathize with their plight.

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During my daughter’s young life, I have spent countless hours talking with physicians, researching treatments in development, and monitoring clinical trials, all in a quest for the right prescriptions and therapies that can help manage my child’s symptoms, and give her the best quality of life possible.

But I also recognize that the process of finding miracle cures takes time — time that many patients, including coronavirus victims, often don’t have. That’s where Right-to-Try and other expedited approval processes come in. These procedures cut through the FDA’s red tape, and grant patients with terminal illnesses the ability to obtain experimental treatments that regulators have judged safe.

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The coronavirus has already infected more than one million patients around the world, and inflicted immeasurable damage on our economy, jobs and livelihoods. The pandemic demonstrates how we need these expedited procedures more than ever, as our country and many others race for therapies that can treat the coronavirus and for a vaccine that can eliminate it.

Two years ago, I was proud to witness President Trump sign the Right-to-Try Act at the White House. I believed then that the legislation could help people like my daughter obtain the therapies that could save their lives. But now more than ever, I believe that the legislation championed by President Trump provides a framework for our country to find the treatments necessary to slow down, and eventually conquer, deadly diseases like the coronavirus.

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