(AFP) – Jan 14, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Terminally ill patients have no constitutional right to gain access to experimental drugs that have yet to win federal approval, the US Supreme Court ruled Monday.
The top court refused to hear a case brought by the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs, which accuses the government's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of violating the legal rights of the patients.
As is customary when the court declines to take up a case, the nine justices gave no explanation of their reasoning.
The decision let stand an August ruling by the federal appeals court in Washington, which said the FDA was right to refuse access to drugs that have yet to go through the lengthy process of clinical trials.
"Although terminally ill patients desperately need curative treatments ... their deaths can certainly be hastened by the use of a potentially toxic drug with no proven therapeutic benefit," the appeals court had said.
Steven Walker, who co-founded the Abigail Alliance in 2001, had urged the Supreme Court to give patients suffering incurable disease a legal redress against the "unelected, tenured career bureaucrats" of the FDA.
"The majority opinion of the appeals court suggested that this is an issue for Congress to solve. A great idea if one has a full lifetime to work on it," he wrote Friday in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.
"The framers (of the US constitution) understood that the pursuit of life is an inalienable right that should not be abridged without due process of law."
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