Halloween, ‘Sugar’ and The Right To Try


Are you ready for Halloween? I’m looking forward to good weather and good times with the hordes of trick-or-treaters this evening!

Whenever Halloween and the predictions of “sugar highs” come around, I’m reminded of my mother. She had what she called “sugar.” When she died in 2012, having spent more than a painful decade as a bedridden amputee, she had battled Type 2 Diabetes for more than 40 years.

The memories are mostly happy thoughts, though, because we were fortunate to have my mother in our lives nearly 75 years. I never did get to meet my grandmother: My mother was just 15 when her 45-year-old mother succumbed to the same insidious disease. It’s one of the reasons I monitor my health closely.

Incurable, chronic diseases affect more than 100 million Americans. Look around and you have a friend, neighbor or acquaintance struggling with a disease for which there is no cure: cancer, diabetes, lupus, ALS.

There are those so desperate – for themselves or their children – that they’re gathering their life’s savings and leaving the country to seek risky treatments … or simply medications not available here yet; many are used elsewhere but still crawling through the federal approval pipeline here.

Did you know? It takes an average of 10 years to bring a new drug to market.

What happens to those who don’t have even a year to wait for a drug to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration before they can use it? What of those who don’t have the funds to head abroad for treatment?

Should that be the end of hope?

Too many people hear a death sentence from their doctor, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing more I can do for you. There’s a life-saving treatment in use in Europe that might help, but it’s still awaiting FDA approval.”

What would you say? I know what I would say: “Can’t they make an exception, doc? What difference does it make if the medication kills me? I’ll take the chance; I’m dying anyway.”

That’s why I’m a huge supporter of the Right-to-Try movement: It gives a chance at life to those hardworking Americans who don’t have the health or wealth to shop abroad for experimental treatment, or even those drugs already tried and tested abroad.

You’ve heard this: “It’s my body. I can do what I want with it.”
I want to hear this: “It’s my body. I can try an experimental drug that could save my life.”

It was introduced in Georgia this year, so it has a chance to pass in 2016. I sincerely hope it does. Only one of Georgia’s neighbors has not yet passed legislation.

Darcy Olsen has written a book, “The Right to Try: How the Federal Government Prevents Americans from Getting the Lifesaving Treatments They Need.” It’s being released on November 10; you can order it now. You’ll know the hope that a Right-to-Try law offers.

Darcy’s the president of the Goldwater Institute, one of the nation’s leading state think tanks and a sister organization to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. Darcy’s thought-provoking book reinforces why Georgians, too, deserve the right to try. I hope you’ll consider purchasing a copy to learn why this is so important. Better yet: ALL the proceeds from book sales go to support the national Right-to-Try movement.

In 21 states, terminally ill patients already have the right to try an experimental drug. For my friends, family and colleagues – and for yours – I’d like to the option to try what could be a risky treatment if there’s a chance it could save my life. I think my mother would have embraced that chance. She was a fighter, but her weapons were few.

Benita Dodd

Vice President
Georgia Public Policy Foundation

P.S. The Georgia Right to Try Facebook page is here. 

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