The Iowa Senate has unanimously approved a bill designed to accelerate the access terminally ill Iowans have to medications being tested in federally-approved drug trials.
Republican Senator Rick Bertrand of Sioux City sponsored the bill after Todd Oss, a Sioux City native who’s been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, told Bertrand this so-called “right to try” legislation was being considered in other states.
“He currently is in let’s just say the sunset of life,” Bertrand told his Senate colleagues yesterday, “and I think that with the passage of this gives him some satisfaction that there’s going to other options for patients that are terminally ill in the state of Iowa.”
Terminally ill Americans can seek a “compassionate care” waiver from the federal government to try medications that have gotten initial approval for clinical trials, but aren’t yet available by prescription. That process, however, requires a lot of paperwork and a lot of time.
Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, said this bill would speed access not only to medications, but to devices being tested as treatment for incurable illnesses like Huntington’s Disease, ALS, and advanced forms of cancer.
“I think we all know an Iowan who’s been in a circumstance with a terminally ill diagnosis,” Danielson said, “and we’d do anything we can to improve their quality of life.”
In other action Tuesday, all 50 senators approved a bill that would allow pharmacists to dispense a 90-day supply of prescription drugs. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, said there are thousands of Iowans who have taken the same drug for years as treatment for a chronic condition like high blood pressure.
“Allowing a pharmacist to dispense a 90-day supply will reduce the number of trips Iowans have to make to the pharmacy, decrease out-of-pocket expenditures,” Bolkcom said.
Walgreens is the country’s largest retail drug chain and the company has found patients who are able to buy a 90-day supply of their prescription drugs are more likely to use cheaper generic medication and have saved an average of $23 a year. This bill and the “right to try” bill must clear the Iowa House and be approved by the governor before the policies would become state law.