Proos supports bill to allow access to experimental medicine

LANSING—Legislation approved by the Michigan Senate in August would allow patients with a terminal illness the option to access investigational medication, said Sen. John Proos.

“Too many patients in Michigan are suffering and dying as they wait for treatment medications to be approved,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “This is about being compassionate to those with no other option. I supported the Right to Try legislation because it would give terminally ill patients access to the experimental drugs in an attempt to save their life, when time is of the essence.”

Senate Bill 991 would create the Right to Try Act, allowing patients with an advanced illness to access and use investigational drugs, biological products or devices that have not yet been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The bill was recently approved a House committee and now awaits a vote by the full House.

Under SB 991, a patient would have the option for treatment with a drug that has passed the FDA Phase I trial safety tests. Phase I approval means the drug is safe to administer. Later phases determine whether it is effective and if there are side effects.

To be eligible, patients would need to receive a recommendation from their physician to try an investigational drug and give their informed written consent. Also, the manufacturer must be willing to make the drugs available.

“The FDA drug approval process is a very time-consuming and costly process,” Proos said. “That process is important for public safety. This reform is about giving an opportunity at life to terminally ill patients who have exhausted all other options.”

Last week, Proos toured the MSU Bioeconomy Institute in Holland to see how the facility is helping both for-profit and not-for-profit entities with the research and testing of new bio-based chemicals, fuels and materials. 

Currently, the institute is working with a prominent pharmaceutical company to develop a new drug to treat Hepatitis C. 

“The transformation of the former Pfizer building into a research and development center is representative of the transformation we are making throughout Michigan,” Proos said. “It was great to see firsthand how the institute is helping diversify our economy and supporting innovators in the emerging bioeconomy. Ideas they are working on today could be the drugs or products that tomorrow will be saving lives or reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

The proximity to the MSU Bioeconomy Institute was a major factor in the decision of a California-based company, Marrone Bio Innovations Inc., to open a state-of-the-art production facility in Bangor last year. This spring, the company added 50 jobs at this facility. 


Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Proos are available on the senator’s webpage at Click on “Audio” under the Media Center tab.