President Trump rightly congratulated the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday night for approving more new and generic drugs and medical devices than ever during his first year in office.
The accomplishment should help “fix the injustice” of high drug prices, which Trump said will be one of his top priorities for the year.
The likelihood that Trump will achieve the substantial drops in prices he vowed is uncertain. He faces considerable hurdles. Not the least of these is the well-funded and powerful drug lobby that has sent more than a few of its members to the Trump campaign and administration.
While some consumer safety advocates worry the FDA is moving too fast to approve some new drugs, it’s the so-called “right to try” laws that Trump trumpeted that really give advocates pause.
“We also believe that patients with terminal conditions should have access to experimental treatments that could potentially save their lives,” Trump said. “People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure — I want to give them a chance right here at home.”
That carries risks, wrote Ellen Sigal, the founder of Friends of Cancer Research, in the journal Health Affairs last March. Her sister Gale died two days after starting an unproven experimental therapy more than 20 years ago for her metastatic cancer. Now, while Sigal agrees “everyone deserves the chance to try an experimental therapy…we must not subject patients to false hope or unacceptable side effects.” She recommends “Informed consent and transparency.”