New York Times Examines Debate Surrounding Use of Experimental Treatments in Terminally Ill Patients
Some patient advocates are lobbying to legalize "compassionate use" of experimental drugs for people with terminal illnesses who have exhausted other treatments, prompting a debate about how and when to provide such patients with treatments that could prolong their lives, the New York Times reports.
Most insurers do not cover unproven treatments, and physicians have concerns that using experimental treatment could give patients false hope and cause unnecessary pain. Drugmakers are concerned that if there are unfavorable outcomes from providing patients with an unproven treatment, it could hurt the drug's chances of receiving FDA approval. At the same time, FDA does not want to grant drugs and their makers the opportunity to skip clinical trials. Currently, patients must individually apply to receive treatments through compassionate use (Harmon, New York Times, 5/17).