Those of us who have a very sick family member or friend recognize that a terminal illness is painful not only for the patient, but also for their loved ones. Conventional treatment methods are sometimes insufficient to improve a patient’s condition, especially those battling cancer, a neurological disorder, and other serious and progressive forms of illnesses. It is all too easy to give up hope in these situations, but investigational drugs may offer a pathway to survival.

House Bill 290 permits the use of an investigational drug, product, or device that is still in clinical trials and has not been approved for general use by the United States Food and Drug Administration. These products would be administered within proper guidelines to treat an eligible patient suffering from a terminal illness. For many, investigational drugs and devices may be the last option they have. 

It is necessary, however, to establish firm guidelines to ensure that unapproved drugs are administered and used appropriately. As such, although the treating physician may recommend the use of an investigational drug, product, or device as the patient’s best chance of survival, the patient’s consent must be secured after providing them with important information. Such information includes: the absence of proof or guarantee of effectiveness, the limits to health insurance coverage, and the granting of qualified immunity to the drug manufacturer, pharmacy, and the treating physician.

House Bill 290 does not require the manufacturer or distributor to provide an investigational drug, product, or device to an eligible patient or the patient’s treating physician. Moreover, the bill restricts the possession, purchase, distribution, and sale of investigational drugs and products by wholesale distributors of dangerous drugs and licensed terminal distributors of dangerous drugs. The goal with all these provisions is to use these investigational products safely and ethically while protecting the rights of the patient, physician, and distributor.

As a cosponsor of this crucial piece of legislation, I am proud that the Ohio General Assembly has passed House Bill 290, and I look forward to its implementation. For many Ohioans who are experiencing a dire terminal illness, there is now another avenue of treatment available that may prove effective. At the very least, there is new hope for patients and their loved ones—something all too often lacking in desperate times.


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