ICBioethics Blog 

The Newest Healthcare Law Discussion

Written by: Leah Jeunnette, Ph.D.(c)

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog (and follow-up blog) about compassionate use of drugs. Since then, the discussion of compassionate use is becoming a common occurrence.

Several states are trying to address compassionate use through legislation.  Nicknamed “Dallas Buyers Club” bill, they remove the need for federal approval for compassionate use. The law assumes that the biggest problem is the federal government. The real problem is the way the regulations for compassionate use are laid out. There are four parameters that must be met in order for compassionate use to be enacted:

  1. The patient (or patient’s family) puts in a request
  2. A physician is willing to oversee their care of the patient using this experimental drug
  3. The federal government approves the experimental drug to be used for compassionate use
  4. The drug company releases the drug to the willing physician.

Passing a bill that eliminates one parameter is not going to change the regulations of compassionate use. The drug company has the final say if the drug is released or not; they do not have to provide experimental medication even if the first three parameters are met.

As Arthur Caplan describes, “this law only gives you the right to beg for it.” This law does nothing to improve the current state of compassionate use. To nickname a bill after a movie that takes places 30 years ago, is representative of their clear lack of understanding by legislators regarding the current issues for compassionate use.

* We put together a quick quiz for you to judge your ethics knowledge. Want to find out how ethical you are? Click here.

Mitch GennusoComment