Capitol Alert

Dying Californians will get to seek experimental drugs

Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, during session at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Thursday, April 14, 2016. Gov. Jerry Brown signed Calderon’s AB 1668 on Tuesday.
Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, during session at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Thursday, April 14, 2016. Gov. Jerry Brown signed Calderon’s AB 1668 on Tuesday. hamezcua@sacbee.com

One year after vetoing a similar measure, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Tuesday that will allow pharmaceutical companies to offer experimental drugs to terminally ill Californians.

A national “right to try” movement, which seeks to expand access to not-yet-approved treatments for people who fail to get into clinical trials, yielded bills in California last year but Brown deferred to federal regulators in vetoing a measure on his desk.

The governor signed this year’s similar version, Assembly Bill 1668, after it won broad support in the Legislature. It would allow drug manufacturers to offer treatments not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration if a patient has exhausted other FDA-sanctioned treatment options and has approval from two physicians.

Opponents of the measure, including oncologists and nurses, warned it would dangle false hope because companies would not need to agree to offer experimental drugs. In addition, critics said the measure would endanger people by exposing them to treatments whose potential side effects aren’t fully understood.

In other drug-related legislation Tuesday, Brown signed a bill meant to deter “doctor shopping” by prescription drug addicts. Senate Bill 482 requires doctors and other health care providers, before prescribing pain killers and other medicine, to consult the state’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES, database.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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