No Right to Drugs for Dying

Supreme Court declines to hear plea for experimental drugs
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2008 3:30 AM CST
People stand in line outside the Supreme Court in Washington. The Justice declined to hear a petition calling for the terminally ill to have access to experimental drugs. (AP Photos/Susan Walsh)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The Supreme Court has declined to hear what could have been a landmark case on whether terminally ill patients should be given access to experimental drugs not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The decision lets stand a lower court ruling that the terminally ill have no special right to experimental therapy. The White House had asked the court not to hear the case.

The petition was brought by a patients' rights organization founded by a parent whose teenage daughter was denied access to an anti-cancer drug approved for use after her death. An organization spokesman called the decision "a tragedy." The government has "abandoned our constituents, which number in the thousands," he said. The solicitor general argued in a brief that allowing patients to use experimental drugs was too risky and potentially detrimental to public health.