Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown vetoes ‘right to try’ bill for experimental drugs

California Gov. Jerry Brown discusses a bill he is about to sign with Garciela Castillo-Krings, his deputy legislative secretary, at his Capitol office in Sacramento, Calif., Friday Oct. 9, 2015.
California Gov. Jerry Brown discusses a bill he is about to sign with Garciela Castillo-Krings, his deputy legislative secretary, at his Capitol office in Sacramento, Calif., Friday Oct. 9, 2015. AP

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday vetoed legislation that would have allowed terminally ill people in California to petition pharmaceutical companies for access to experimental drugs before they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The so-called “right-to-try” legislation had gained support in more than a dozen states, and it sailed through the California Legislature with nearly unanimous support.

In a veto message, Brown said “patients with life threatening conditions should be able to try experimental drugs” but that proposed changes to federal policies will streamline access to such drugs.

“Before authorizing an alternative state pathway,” he wrote, “we should give this federal expedited process a chance to work.”

Assembly Bill 159, by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, would have permitted pharmaceutical companies to make not-yet-fully-approved treatments available to terminally ill patients, while shielding doctors and insurance companies from liability for negative outcomes.

Proponents of the legislation said existing access to drugs in development via clinical trials has been insufficient, while opponents – including oncologists and nurses – said the legislation could harm patients or give them false hope.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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