Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Dying Patients right to access experimental drugs

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled yesterday that terminally ill patients have a constitutional right to obtain experimental drugs before the Food and Drug Administration has decided whether to approve them. The court held that drugs that have passed the first phase of FDA review should be made available if they might save someone's life -- in a reverse application the Supreme Court's holding in Cruzan, Judge Judith W. Rogers wrote "If there is a protected liberty interest in self-determination that includes a right to refuse life-sustaining treatment, even though this will hasten death, then the same liberty interest must include the complementary right of access to potentially life-sustaining medication, in light of the explicit protection accorded 'life' " .

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