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Supreme Court will not hear case on experimental drugs for terminal patients


WASHINGTON The Supreme Court has declined to consider whether dying patients have a right to be treated with experimental drugs not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration, thereby making the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit which said the terminally ill have no rights in the matter stand as law, according to the Washington Post.

The challenge was brought by the Washington Legal Foundation and the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs. The alliance is headed by Frank Burroughs of Fredericksburg and named in honor of his daughter, Abigail Burroughs, who was diagnosed at 19 and died at 21 as a result of a rare form of cancer.

The groups’ petition told the court that “a terminally ill patient with no approved treatment options has a right to decide for himself, in consultation with his own doctor, whether to take a drug that the FDA concedes is safe and promising enough to be tested in substantial numbers of human subjects.”

Too many patients, they contend, cannot get into trials of the drugs “because they are too young, too sick, cannot qualify for the trial protocol, cannot travel, or because the trial is simply too small.”

U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement said that FDA studies have shown that “preliminary expectations of safety and efficacy often prove to be unfounded, and drugs that initially appear promising are frequently found ineffective or even affirmatively dangerous to life and health.”

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