Supreme Court Dismisses Experimental Drug Case
By Gerri Elder
Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade verdict that determined the Constitution provided adequate rights to allow women to choose abortion, the Supreme Court has faced many cases that center on Americans' rights to live and die. Recently, a case about experimental drugs provided the next chapter in this saga.
According to Reuters reports, the United States Supreme Court has refused to hear a case concerning the access terminal patients have to experimental drugs.
The original injury lawsuit was brought by the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs and the Washington Legal Foundation against the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The two advocacy groups sought greater access to experimental and unapproved drugs for terminal patients.
Current FDA policy strictly prohibits drug makers from selling unapproved drugs to clients, reports the Los Angeles Times. And because the FDA drug approval process can take as long as 10 years, many terminally ill patients never have a chance to try drugs that could potentially save their lives.
A 1997 ruling from the high court refused terminally ill patients the right to take lethal medication.
Because their case sought a right to live, representatives from the advocacy groups allegedly hoped the Supreme Court would be more sympathetic to their cause.
But despite lawyers' arguments that denying dying people access to medication goes against the constitutional right to life and liberty, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Plus, the FDA maintains that untested drugs could be ineffective and even harmful to those desperately seeking a cure.
Some attribute the refusal to hear the case to a supposed reluctance on the part of the Supreme Court to hear cases that would give people "new rights."
In fact, many personal injury cases have resulted from defective drugs - thorough testing is undoubtedly necessary before new products are made available to the general public. But critics of the system have reportedly noted that trial groups for new drugs are often too small, too specific (restricted by age, for example) or too far away to be useful to some terminal patients.
The issue is certainly a difficult one; perhaps it's no wonder the Supreme Court opted out of hearing the case's appeal.
Some sources suggest that the Bush administration encouraged the Court to dismiss the case, as legislation passed in 2006 was intended to broaden the rights of terminal patients looking for alternative treatment sources.
Cases of this nature will certainly play into life in the United States in the future. Visit Total Injury for the latest news on defective drugs and the right to take experimental drugs.