In 2013, a blockbuster movie came out, detailing the true story of how one man tested positive for HIV, was given thirty days to live, and proceeded to defy everyone’s expectations. The main character began exploring alternative options for treating HIV, which brought him to Mexico. There, he discovered medicine that was not approved in the United States, and was soon treating hundreds of people in his hometown. Dallas Buyers Club is pop culture’s interpretation of a very real debate in the world of health and healthcare today. When is too soon to try experimental drugs? If someone’s life could be saved, is it morally justifiable to withhold unapproved medications?
This year, five states– Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Arizona– have passed so-called “right-to-try” laws that expand access to experimental medications for patients in dire conditions. These laws have legally accomplished what Ron Woodroof attempted to establish in Dallas Buyers Club, and like in that story, lives could be improved or saved– but still, does that make it right?
Critics of these laws point out the very legitimate reasons why these drugs aren’t yet on the market: there could be undiscovered risks that would cause even more harm than any good the drug would do. The FDA exists for a reason, and allowing the right-to-try compromises the safety of the patient.
However, many terminally ill patients don’t have the time to wait for a request to the FDA to be processed, and the right-to-try is their opportunity to have a chance to live, or even just live a little better for a little longer. What do you think? Do we have a right-to-try?
For more information, check out this article.
Kellie Chin is a freshman and has yet to declare her major. She is a member of the Communications team.