Trump must pressure drug makers to help terminally ill people: Experts

President Donald Trump’s call on lawmakers during his State of the Union address to support terminally ill patients gaining access to experimental therapies won’t help much, health policy experts say.

Instead, the president needs to pressure drugmakers which make the decision on whether to supply their early stage medicines to dying patients, said Arthur Caplan, medical ethics director at NYU Langone Medical Center.

“Pushing the item at the federal level won’t change anything,” he told CNBC. “the item won’t compel any company to give away their drug.”

Drugmakers have legitimate concerns about granting access to these drugs for fear of being sued by patients if something goes poorly, Holly Fernandez Lynch, assistant professor of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, told CNBC.

Granting early access to experimental drugs can also create ethical issues. Drugmakers have minimal data on side effects during the early stages of the process along with the effects could end up harming patients.

Companies also sometimes have limited supplies of experimental drugs when working on clinical trials, Lynch said. “Resources needed include a staff, along with you also need the supplies for the drug.”

The federal government could pass legislation which grants drugmakers additional resources, although the item’s “unlikely,” NYU Langone’s Caplan said.

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