An effort is under way in a number of states to pass “right to try” laws that would widen the availability of experimental drugs to patients who’ve exhausted their other options. Here in Nevada, AB164 has passed the Assembly and is on its way to the Senate. The hope is that it’ll fend off more instances like the following:
Mikaela Knapp’s story is one such example.
At age 24, Mikaela was diagnosed with a deadly form of kidney cancer that migrated into her bones before she even knew she was sick. She went through every known treatment for the cancer in a matter of months — nothing worked. Mikaela’s high school sweetheart, Keith, heard about a drug in development that was successfully treating people with this same cancer. Like Josh, Mikaela wasn’t allowed to enroll in the clinical trial.
Mikaela and Keith launched a social media campaign to try to get access to the drug, but it wasn’t enough. The FDA didn’t help, the drug company didn’t bend and Mikaela didn’t get access to the drug.
She died on April 24, 2014.
Five months later, on Sept. 4, the FDA gave final approval to the drug that could have saved her life.
No family should have to launch a social media campaign or beg the government and drug companies on national television for the chance to save their child, their wife or their mother.
Dealing with cancer is bad enough. Being told you can’t have access to a potentially lifesaving drug because some faceless bureaucrat hasn’t signed off on it yet is not only frustrating, but it’s killing people needlessly. Is it guaranteed that the drugs in question will save people’s lives? No…but it’s one more shot against a disease that, left untreated, will kill.