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Right-to-Try Law Gives Brain Cancer Patient New Hope

Jan 11, 2019 by AFP

Thousands of terminally ill patients were given access to experimental medications and therapies in May of 2018 when federal right-to-try legislation was signed into law, giving hope to those who might not have had it before.

And now, a California man with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, has this new hope as the first publicly known person to access a trial medication under the new law.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, received Gliovac, “a vaccine crafted from the patient’s own cells and tissue taken from other patients with glioblastoma,” according to Bloomberg. It was provided to him by Belgium-based Epitopoietic Research Corp., known as ERC.

In the U.S., Gliovac is in the second of three stages of a study the Food and Drug Administration requires before it’s approved. The patient didn’t qualify for an experimental study of that treatment — or any other study. He’d run out of options.

Luckily, the new right-to-try law allowed him to access the vaccine through ERC’s U.S. subsidiary (administered by a University of California physician) without having to navigate complex regulatory barriers.

“For many patients with recurrent glioblastoma, there is nothing,” said Joe Elliott, managing director of ERC’s subsidiary in the U.S. “It’s a death sentence. Time is of the essence to get them into the program. We just want to help patients in these situations where they don’t have any other treatment options.”

Americans for Prosperity long advocated for right-to-try measures at the state level; Forty state legislatures passed their own versions of the law, creating the momentum needed to pass it at the federal level.

For patients like this California man, having access to experimental treatments could be a matter of life and death. Right-to-try laws help ensure barriers don’t stand in the way of getting potentially live-saving treatments to those who direly need them.