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House members endorsed legislation Thursday allowing terminally ill people to use experimental drugs and devices that have yet to receive full approval from regulators, when other options have been exhausted.
The so-called "Right to Try" bill, HB94, passed 72-1 in the House, and now goes to the Senate.
Rep Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, the sponsor of the bill, said, "I think everybody probably has had a friend or family member that has been touched in this category."
He noted that the late Rep. Brad Galvez even went out of the country to seek experimental treatment.
"Whether you term this bill 'right to try,' 'right for life' or 'right to fight,' it's all those," Froerer said.
It would allow patients, in partnership with their doctors, to approach drug companies directly and request treatments that have passed one phase of the Food and Drug Administration's three-phase approval process, essentially ensuring they are not harmful.
"We must balance the safety of patients with affording them their rights to self-determination," said Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City. "I think that this bill strikes that balance."
She added, "There are many patients who pass away and families [are] left wondering if tragic outcomes might have been otherwise avoided, or time extended, had they been able to access these investigational drugs and devices."