The Latest ‘Federal Movement’ in the Food and Drug Law Arena: The Federal Right-to-Try or Rather Right-to-Know and Thus Request Investigational Therapies for Individuals with a Life-Threatening Disease or Condition

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3239582

Right to Try Article

The link above will bring you to my forthcoming publication in the Indiana Health Law Review, Vol. 16, Issue 1, November 2018. The abstract is below.

Abstract

Does the recently enacted Federal Right-to-Try Act provide improved access for the desperately ill? Will insurance companies provide reimbursement for a patient to undergo such investigational therapies? Is the manufacturer protected in terms of lawsuits? That is, does the patient relinquish the right to bring a legal action? Will physicians comprehend the pathway and advocate for their patients? Does this new law guarantee “any novel federal right”? The national state movement regarding Right-to-Try state legislation spurred the enactment of the Federal Right-to-Try (Federal Right-to-Try Act) legislation passed in 2018. Yet, even prior to the enactment of the Federal Right-to-Try law, the United States Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has had mechanisms in place for those terminally ill who do not qualify for a clinical trial.

This article provides a Federal Primer on the Investigational Drug, Biologic and Device Process, details a similar national right-to-know movement in the food and drug law arena that led to federal legislation perhaps comparable to how the Federal Right-to-Try Act was enacted and includes a discussion about the state right to try movement which conceivably led to the enactment of the Federal Right-to-Try Act. There are more queries than unambiguous answers regarding the recently enacted Federal Right-to-Try Act. The federal law in essence could prove troublesome and confusing with both the state Right-to-Try measures due to, for instance, issues of national uniformity and preemption. Further, could the recently enacted Federal Right-to-Try Act ultimately be detrimental to the patient in terms of lack of adequate safeguards and perhaps a false unrealistic sense of hope?

Practice of Medicine or Drug Biologic Product—Regenerative Sciences, LLC

“Practice of Medicine” or FDA Authority to Regulate

The Food and Drug Administration and the Authority to Regulate

USA v Regenerative Sciences

Regenerative Sciences, LLC vigorously defended its position that FDA could not regulate the practice of medicine in its Regenexx™ treatment or Regenexx-C™ cultured treatment which uses Mesenchymal adult stem cells (MSCs) that originate primarily from bone marrow. The company promotes the Regenexx™ treatment as a “non-surgical” treatment option for joint or bone pain in the hip, knee, shoulder, back or ankle as well as non-union fractures. The dispute with FDA has been ongoing since at least 2008 when FDA sent correspondence to Regenerative Sciences depicting the cell treatment as a drug or biologic. FDA conducted an inspection and found violations of current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs). The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the District Court and the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) argument that Regenerative Sciences “Cultured Regenexx Procedure” was a biological drug subject to FDA approval through the biologics licensing application (BLA) process. The court of appeals upheld the permanent injunction against the use of the biological drug without FDA approval. The issue focused on the practice of medicine versus the regulation by the United States Food and Drug Administration. This distinction has far reaching ramifications. 

Issue the Court of Appeals Addressed

In the civil enforcement action, the court of appeals had to decide “whether the appellants—three individuals and a related corporate entity—violated federal laws regulating the manufacture and labeling of drugs and biological products by producing, as part of their medical practice, a substance consisting of a mixture of a patient’s stem cells and the antibiotic doxycycline.” The court of appeals determined that FDA had the authority to regulate the product and affirmed the district court’s judgment and the permanent injunction it entered against appellants.

What Regenerative Sciences, LLC Argued

Regenerative Sciences, LLC (Regenerative Sciences) alleged several arguments that their product did not fall within FDA regulatory authority; however, the court rejected all of the arguments. For example, Regenerative argued that the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) did not apply because the product was a procedure overseen by state “practice of medicine”. Another argument advanced by Regenerative Sciences was that the product was exempt from FDA approval because it was a compounded product and further it was a minimally manipulated product. As mentioned, the court of appeals rejected all of the arguments advanced by Regenerative Sciences.

Looking Ahead

This was a long awaited decision. The future is uncertain in terms of how a court will rule about novel therapies such as the issue in this case. However, no doubt as more technological advances occur, FDA will again be challenged as to the agency’s authority to regulate such products and or procedures.The link to the full case is as follows:

USA v Regenerative Sciences