Mississippians diagnosed with a terminal illness will soon be able to explore experimental treatments if all other options have been exhausted.
Mississippi is one of 20 states that has passed the Right to Try Act. It's a law gives terminally ill patients the chance to try experimental drugs, devices or procedures that have not been yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but have been deemed safe.
The law was introduced by Republican Senator Josh Harkins of Flowood. He says the law gives hope to those Mississippians running out of options.
"I thought it was a no-brainer, really," says Harkins. "I mean who are we to get in the way of someone who is terminal diagnosis and tell the 'No, you can't try some experimental drugs that may or may not help you if nothing else is working."
Doctor Richard Summers is the Associate Vice Chancellor of Research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He says the hospital is looking over the bill very carefully.
"We're in a point of interpreting what this law means and understanding how we can apply it effectively," Summers says. "We are looking into it because it's a law now and we want to offer it to patients if there is potential."
In 2009, the FDA created a similar program, known as compassionate use, that allowed doctors to prescribe experimental drugs to patients, but many saw the process as too burdensome to truly help people.