Should the terminally ill have the right to try risky, non FDA approved drugs?

Howard Baetjer,

Release Date
April 30, 2015



What do you think about these questions? Let us know in the comments and check out the extended version here:
The FDA approval process can take years, and thousands of terminally ill patients die every year waiting to the FDA to approve potentially life-saving drugs. Should terminally ill patients suffering from serious diseases like cancer have the right to try risky, non FDA approved drugs? If patients with terminal illnesses can try experimental drugs, what about patients who are sick, but not terminally ill? Economics Professor Howard Baetjer went to Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland to ask students what they think about these tough questions.
You can check out the extended cut of the video, with additional commentary from Professor Baetjer on the FDA approval process, here:

Should we be allowed to sell…? (video): Professor Peter Jaworski asks campus students whether they should be permitted to sell hugs, sex, and kidneys. (Website): An extensive collection of FDA Research including a detailed history of the FDA, a review of the major plans for FDA reform, and more.
Is the FDA Safe and Effective” (Video): An informative and enjoyable lecture from Dr. Alex Tabarrok.
Goldwater Institute (Database): A compilation of recently published stories on healthcare and “Right to Try”

Speaker 1: [crosstalk 00:00:06]
Should it be legal for the terminally ill to try risky non-FDA approved treatments?
Speaker 2: I feel like they shouldn’t be able to use it if it’s not approved, it doesn’t sound too healthy.
Speaker 3: If they really need it and it’s the only option, I think it should be legal to save a life.
Speaker 4: I mean, unless they are, like dying, but what if it makes it worse?
Speaker 5: If the patient is aware that they are dying and this is a last ditch effort, I see no reason to prevent them from receiving medical care.
Speaker 6: I think if I’d…Treatment that we found is like working, maybe other countries, the FDA should probably try to test it out.
Speaker 7: People should be informed…
Speaker 1: Yes.
Speaker 7: …So it should be legal, but as long as the person is informed, it should be up to them.
Speaker 1: Okay. All right, I have a follow up question for you.
Speaker 7: Okay.
Speaker 1: Should people who are sick, but not terminally ill, be allowed to try risky, non-FDA approved treatments?
Speaker 4: I want to say, yes, but at the same time, I feel like the FDA does a lot of good work to keep things that aren’t safe from getting to consumers.
Speaker 8: A patient doesn’t really know everything that goes into a drug and their doctor should be the one to tell them whether it’s for them or not.
Speaker 9: I guess, you know, it’s…I’m kind of desensitized to, you know, people being not allowed to do things they want to do.
Speaker 1: Yeah.
Speaker 10: Say the patient, you know, discusses it with a doctor, and they knwow the risks and stuff like that, and if they are consenting, I would say they have the right to consent to what they want to consent to.
Speaker 9: They’re not approved by the FDA, they’re not safe.
Speaker 1: Okay.
Speaker 9: Well, at least that’s what we’re told.
Speaker 1: Yeah.