Late this afternoon U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that terminally ill patients do NOT have the constitutional right to obtain experimental drugs that have not been approved by the FDA!

The Abigal Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs and the Washington Legal Foundation argued that terminally ill patients, including men with advanced prostate cancer, have the constitutional right to have access to experimental drugs once they have been shown to be safe.

This devastating ruling was made by the complete ten-judge court with an 8-2 vote. The ruling reverses a prior one made by a divided three-judge appeals panel.

Judge Thomas Griffith wrote the majority opinion, “The FDA’s policy of limiting access to investigational drugs is rationally related to the legitimate state interest of protecting patients, including the terminally ill…”

The dissenting opinion was written by Judge Judith Rogers who said, “There is no logic to be found….in the conclusion that the right to save one’s life is unprotected” (by the constitution).

The FDA’s spokesperson has indicated that they are pleased with the ruling while the Alliance and the Foundation state that they will appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court.

Men with Advanced Prostate Cancer have been dealt another significant blow. The FDA has decided that they have a paternal interest in protecting us from ourselves and the Court of Appeals agrees!

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW