FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Governor John Hickenlooper traveled to Fort Collins Saturday to sign a law that could give hope to thousands of Coloradans battling terminal illness.
However, noticeably absent was the lawmaker who sponsored the bill.
“She is not here because she is caring for her brother who is gravely ill and has taken a turn for the worse,” said Gov. Hickenlooper.
State Rep. Joann Ginal fought for HB-1281, which gives terminally ill patients access to experimental medicine not yet approved by the FDA.
“Thank you to everyone for passing this bill, which may bring hope to people like Tom when all else failed,” said State Rep. Randy Fischer, who stepped in to give Ginal’s statement.
Fischer told the crowd experimental drugs extended her brother’s life by 10 months.
“The types of treatments envisioned in this bill gave my brother more time and hopefully will do the same for others,” she wrote.
The legislation could help the family of 9-year-old Ryan Dunne, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
“Kids are generally in a wheelchair by their early teens, quads by their mid- to late-teens and don’t survive past early adulthood,” said Ryan’s dad, Chris Dunne.
In March, Chris Dunne told Channel 2 News’ sister station FOX31 Denver they couldn’t wait out the time it could take for a promising experimental drug to get FDA approval.
“We’re at the point now, Ryan could be one of the last kids to die from this disease or one of the first kids to survive it,” Chris Dunne said.
Patients and their doctors, along with a pharmaceutical company’s permission, would work together to get the patient treatment.
But the law could also signal to the FDA the need to speed up its drug-approval process, especially if three other states are pushing forward similar legislation.
“I think it sends a message to the federal government that this is important and we need to put things in place so it can benefit folks throughout the country,” said State Senator John Kafalas.
The law said drug manufacturers have the choice to provide the drugs for free or charge for them.
It also stated that insurance companies are not required to pay for treatment.