Acts to prevent racial profiling and help terminal patients await approval

Terminally ill patients may get better chance to join clinical trials

senior-citizen-sickNASHVILLE, Tenn. — A law to give terminally ill patients access to medicines that have passed Phase 1 of the FDA approval process but are not yet on pharmacy shelves has passed the state House and Senate on a unanimous vote.

Governor Bill Haslam has 10 days to sign or veto the bill once it reaches his desk.

HB0143 (the Tennessee Right to Try Act) is sponsored by State Reps. Jon Lundberg, Tilman Goins, Sheila Butt, Terri Lynn Weaver, Steve McManus, Bryan Terry and Martin Daniel.

The act allows doctors to prescribe to terminally ill patients medicines being used in clinical trials.

States that already have such laws include Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming. Lawmakers in Oklahoma have sent a similar bill to their governor for approval. Another 20 states are considering the law this year.

“Americans shouldn’t have to ask the government for permission to try to save their own lives,” said Darcy Olsen, president of the Goldwater Institute, a constitutional freedom advocacy organization. “They should be able to work with their doctors directly to decide what potentially life-saving treatments they are willing to try. This is exactly what Right To Try does — it removes barriers that limit medical practitioners from providing care they are trained to give.”

The FDA has a process that allows people to ask permission to access investigational medicines, but fewer than 1,000 people a year receive help. Others die while waiting on their approval. The FDA recently announced plans to shorten the application form. “A simpler form is window dressing on an archaic and inhumane system that prevents the vast majority of Americans with terminal illnesses from accessing promising investigational treatments. Patients must still beg the federal government for permission to try to save their own lives — it’s just a shorter form,” said Olsen.

Right To Try is limited to patients with a terminal disease who have exhausted all conventional treatment options and cannot enroll in a clinical trial. All medications available under the law must have successfully completed basic safety testing and be part of the FDA’s ongoing approval process.

Approval pending on act to prevent racial profiling

Racial Profiling
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Legislation which requires Tennessee law enforcement agencies to implement policies against racial profiling is on its way to Gov. Bill Haslam after approval by the House of Representatives on Monday by a vote of 93-0.

The “Racial Profiling Prevention Act,” sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Rep. John DeBerry (D-Memphis), defines the discriminatory practice and calls for all law enforcement agencies in the state to adopt a written policy on the subject by Jan. 1, 2016.

“I am very pleased that this legislation has passed,” Kelsey said. “Racial profiling has no place in law enforcement in our state. This bill will also protect officers by providing them clear guidelines for appropriate action. That will make us all safer.”

Rep. DeBerry added, “The State of Tennessee must take lead in insuring that every citizen is treated fair, and that personal bias will have no place in successful policing.”

Senate Bill 6 defines racial profiling as the detention or interdiction of an individual in traffic contacts, field contacts, or asset seizure and forfeiture efforts solely on the basis of the individual’s actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, or national origin. The bill would apply to all police departments and sheriff’s departments in Tennessee.

The bill becomes effective upon the governor’s signature.