House Republican and White House hopeful Ron Paul (R-Texas) aims to give doctors increased authority to prescribe terminal patients treatment with unapproved medical devices.
Paul’s bill, introduced this month and dubbed the "Compassionate Freedom Choice Act of 2012," would allow physicians the ability to treat terminally ill patients with investigational devices as a last resort.
"Denying these patients a possible opportunity to cure their illness – or at least reduce their suffering – is nonsensical and cruel," Paul said on the House floor when introducing the bill earlier this month. "Why should the FDA deny terminally-ill patients access to drugs, devices, and treatments that the patient’s physicians have determined represents the patent’s only possible chance for survival?"
Paul followed that up with a list of patients who were denied treatment access by the FDA, despite a physician’s recommendation.
The measure won praise from some groups, including the Constitutional law firm of Emord & Associates, who wrote that the bill would go a long way toward giving physicians the freedom to treat as they see fit.
"The FDA exercises broad discretion to deny or delay approval of compassionate use requests for those most in need," according to a press release from the firm. "All too often FDA has approved requests for experimental therapies only after the illness progressed to where those therapies were no longer effective."
"The Bill would substantially limit FDA’s ability to second-guess treating physicians’ decisions concerning the standard and methods of care available to terminally ill patients," according to the firm, which said that the measure further "puts medical decisions back in the hands of treating physicians by limiting FDA authority over compassionate use."
Fellow House Republicans Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) co-sponsored the bill, which was referred to committee earlier this month.