State Policy Network
Arizona helps patients with new Right to Try legislation

On April 25, 2022, the Arizona Governor signed Right to Try for Individualized Treatments (Right to Try 2.0)—legislation that allows patients to access treatments that are customized for individuals, based on their genetics. Before this law passed, patients could not access these individualized treatments without first getting approval from the FDA, a process that is incredibly time consuming.

The law was created by the Goldwater Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Phoenix, Arizona, with a successful track record of advancing policy solutions that improve the lives of not only Arizona residents but families across the country.

What is Right to Try?

This isn’t the first time the Goldwater has helped patients get the treatments they need and deserve. In 2014, Goldwater helped Colorado pass the original Right to Try law, which allows patients to receive treatments that haven’t been fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Supporters of Right to Try believe that every individual has the right to try different medical treatments that could extend or save their life, regardless if those treatments have been approved by the FDA.

For some background, the FDA protects public health by regulating food, drugs, and medical treatments. Although the federal agency says their drug approval process ensures the safety of Americans, it can often take years. In fact, it takes, on average, 14 years before potentially lifesaving treatments can receive final government approval for sale. A timespan that some patients, especially those with a terminal illness, simply do not have. Faced with excessively long wait periods, some patients go to different countries to access certain medicines not yet approved by the FDA. Those patients shouldn’t have to travel to another country to receive treatment—they should have access to those medicines, right here, in the United States.

Goldwater recognized how the FDA’s policy hurt thousands of people. That’s why the Institute created and advanced Right to Try legislation. In addition to Colorado, Goldwater helped the innovative law spread to 40 more states and eventually the nation’s capital. In 2018, the federal government passed a national Right to Try law, giving all Americans the opportunity to access life-saving treatments without waiting for the FDA.

How Will Right to Try 2.0 Help Patients? Meet the Riley Family

When Kendra Riley received her daughter’s diagnosis, she didn’t think it could be real. Her daughter Keira was diagnosed with a rare and fatal genetic brain disease that left her unable to walk and talk. Thankfully, Kendra and her husband Dave realized there was an individualized treatment available that takes Keira’s DNA and alters it to make her body function as it should.

However, the treatment was only available in Italy—the FDA did not approve its use in the United States. The original Right to Try legislation that passed in 2018 was not applicable in the Riley’s case because they were seeking an individualized treatment for their daughter.

Christina Sandefur, Goldwater’s Executive Vice President, noted “It is unconscionable that an American patient has to travel to another to country, to Europe, in order to be able to get access to a treatment that could save their life.”

But thanks Goldwater’s efforts, the Rileys now have hope. With Right to Try for individualized treatments now in place in Arizona, Keira and thousands of other Arizona families now have access to individualized treatments when they need it most.

State Policy Network will help Goldwater accelerate Right to Try 2.0 across the country

In 2020, Goldwater brought their Right to Try 2.0 reform idea to SPN’s LaunchPad event—an ecosystem where social and business entrepreneurs hone innovative solutions to address pressing problems related to human freedom and civil society in the states. At LaunchPad, Goldwater refined their strategy for advancing Right to Try 2.0 and walked away with an actionable plan to pass the reform in Arizona.

Goldwater is also a key member of SPN’s Healthcare Working Group, a platform where state think tanks collaborate on ideas for state-level healthcare reforms, share best practices, and serve as a voice for states in DC. Through SPN-led meetings and trainings, Goldwater worked with other state think tanks to advance the original Right to Try legislation across the country.

Goldwater is planning to pursue Right to Try 2.0 in other states, so even more Americans can benefit from this innovative law. Victor Riches, President and CEO of the Goldwater Institute, noted:

“The right to try to save one’s own life is one of the most precious rights of all. America doesn’t have to wait for the FDA to reform itself in order to put patients first. States can and should act now to protect all Americans’ fundamental right to try to save their own life.”

Additional Reading:

New Hope For Patients: Goldwater Expands Right To Try In Arizona
Goldwater Institute

Week in Review: Goldwater’s AZ Right to Try Win Sets National Model
Goldwater Institute

Right To Try: A State-Driven Success Story
State Policy Network

Organization: State Policy Network