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‘Right to Try’ bill to be signed by governor, will open access to drugs for terminal patients

DENVER — This weekend Colorado will become the first state to give terminally ill patients access to potentially life-saving medicines. Gov. John Hickenlooper is set to sign the “Right to Try” bill Saturday.

The bill would open up trial drugs to people facing life-threatening illnesses before they’re cleared by the Food and Drug Administration. Right now, it takes a decade and $1 billion to bring life-saving treatments to the market. With 500,000 people dying every year from cancer and other illnesses, patients don’t have that time to wait.

Nick Auden battled Stage 4 melanoma. He started a public effort to become part of a test trial for the drug commonly called PD-1 after drug companies told him he was not eligible. The drug is proven to shrink tumors in 38 percent of patients with advanced melanoma. But the cure never came and Auden died two months later.

Six months after his death, Hickenlooper will sign a bill to help patients such as Auden.

The “Right to Try” bill requires patients to be supervised by their doctors and applies only to drugs that have already been deemed safe by the FDA.