Court denies terminal patients access to study drugs

August 20, 2007

Terminally ill patients have no Constitutional right to be treated with experimental drugs, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Terminally ill patients have no Constitutional right to be treated with experimental drugs, a federal appeals court has ruled. The 8-2 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned a 2006 ruling by a smaller panel of that court that said terminally ill patients should not be denied access to potentially lifesaving drugs. The full court disagreed, concluding there is "no fundamental right deeply rooted in the nation's history and tradition of access to experimental drugs for the terminally ill." A representative for the Washington Legal Foundation (WLF) said the organization was disappointed by the decision but vowed to take the fight to the Supreme Court. The foundation and the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs had sued the FDA in 2003 over terminally ill patients' lack of access to experimental drugs.

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