- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois is one step closer to granting patients with terminal illnesses the ability to access experimental drugs.

The Illinois Senate approved the bipartisan measure Tuesday with a 55-0 vote. It passed the House last month with a vote of 114-1.

The “Right to Try” measure opens up the possibility for qualifying patients to ask companies for investigational drugs, biological products, or devices that have passed the first phase of Food and Drug Administration testing. The legislation defines what it means to be a “terminal” patient and outlines the requirements before someone can get access to a treatment.

It now heads to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk. The Republican governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Sen. Michael Connelly is the sponsor of the measure in the state Senate. The Republican from Lisle said Tuesday the effort is “a great example of what can happen when we leave partisan differences at the door in order to craft good public policy.”

Supporters have said the measure gives patients who have exhausted approved treatments a chance to potentially extend their lives. Medical experts have raised concerns about opening the door to access to drugs without fully knowing how safe they are.

At least 13 states in the past two years have passed such measures. Indiana’s Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed that state’s Right to Try Act in March. Lawmakers in about 20 others are considering similar proposals.

The Arizona-based libertarian think tank Goldwater Institute has pushed for the measure in Illinois and other states.

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The bill is HB1335.

Online: https://www.ilga.gov/

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