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Published on 17 January 2008

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Court rejects unapproved drugs bid

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The US Supreme Court has refused to review a ruling which means that terminally ill patients do not have a constitutional right to be treated with experimental drugs.

Last year a federal appeals court backed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and ruled that the government may deny patients access to drugs that have not gone through extensive testing and received FDA approval.

The Supreme Court did not explain its decision to leave the appeals court ruling undisturbed.

Back in 2003, the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs and the Washington Legal Foundation sued the FDA in a bid to allow terminally ill patients to be given access to drugs that have undergone preliminary safety testing but have yet to be approved.

The Abigail Alliance was established by Frank Burroughs, whose daughter, Abigail, died in 2001 after she was denied access to an experimental cancer drug. The drug she was seeking to be treated with was eventually approved after her death.

The group said it was asking for “a right for terminally ill patients with no remaining treatment options to fight for their own lives”.

But the FDA said the appeals court’s decision was correct and in line with other rulings “that have rejected constitutionally-based demands for access to unapproved investigational drugs”.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

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