Lawmakers hear bill to let patients use experimental drugs

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island lawmakers have heard testimony on a proposal to let terminally ill patients obtain experimental drugs that haven’t been federally approved.

The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare held the first hearing on the bill Wednesday.

Democratic Rep. Joseph McNamara says he introduced the bill because he wants to give hope to those individuals.

The national policy adviser for an Arizona-based libertarian think tank, the Goldwater Institute, told the committee the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval process hasn’t “kept pace” and patients are dying. Kurt Altman said more than two dozen states are considering similar bills.

The president of a local trial lawyers’ association, Vincent Greene, says he’s troubled by the bill’s immunity provision for health care providers.

The committee held the bill for further study.

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