TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Democrats call it compassion and freedom of choice, but New Jersey Republican Ron Dancer today said the law strips the choice of terminally ill patients to try other forms of treatment for chronic disease.
Dancer, a Republican Assemblyman, in the political minority says it is unacceptable that New Jersey law recognizes the “right to die” for terminally ill patients but not enough other options, and wants to codify their right to try treatments and medications that a doctor believes could keep them alive.
Dancer’s “New Jersey Right to Try-Plus Act” (A3487) would allow patients with less than 12 months to live to request access to non-FDA approved investigational drugs, biological products, and devices. The “plus” is that, unlike other proposals, Dancer’s would also ensure they can try “off-label” treatments and medications with a doctor’s recommendation.
“Any person facing an end-of-life diagnosis deserves to try any medicine or treatment that could provide a cure or improve their quality of life,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said. “Terminally ill patients aren’t usually given the gift of time that is needed for full FDA approvals, so it is critical they are given the right to access potentially life-saving, but unconventional treatments.”
Under the bill, patients must have consulted with a physician and considered all other treatment options currently approved by the FDA, and give informed, written consent. Government medical assistance programs and private health insurers would not be required to cover the costs. If a patient sought the unapproved use of an FDA-approved drug or device, a hospital would be required to administer the treatment regardless of hospital protocols.
Dancer wrote the bill after a constituent said a doctor recommended a potentially life-saving treatment for a family member, but the hospital denied the treatment and the patient died.
“Approximately 50% of cancer patients receive some type of off-label drug in their treatment,” Dancer added. “This bill ensures patients who are dying cannot be denied the right to determine their own medical care.”