Unapproved drugs for your terminal residents? An idea that is way overdue

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John O'Connor
John O'Connor

In any senior living community, there are usually a few residents who just want to die. But the rest certainly don't. And the latter group just received a gift that potentially could help them live longer.

For on Tuesday night, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would let people with deadly diseases receive experimental treatments. This is the kind of no-brainer that makes a person wonder what took so long.

At a minimum, the measure promises to give comfort to people who need it. And who knows, it just might give some of your residents additional months or years before they shed the old mortal coil.

To be fair, opponents don't seem to object so much to the concept as the possible problems that might ensue. First and foremost, it could potentially create a whole new cottage industry for con artists, quacks and others who weren't raised right.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) argued on the floor that the measure will give “fly-by-night physicians and clinics the opportunity to peddle false hope and ineffective drugs to desperate patients.” And he has a point. Cable television hardly needs more sharpies preying on the desperate and gullible.

But here's the thing: Does the prospect of slimy salesmanship outweigh the possible benefits? Hardly. Besides, there are laws on the books that target such charlatans.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is a chief sponsor of the successful House bill. He said the measure will provide “hope for terminally ill patients who have nowhere else to turn.” Call me naïve, but that strikes me as a pretty good outcome.

The successful House measure passed 250 to 169. The Senate earlier approved a similar bill. President Trump has championed so-called right-to-try legislation and is expected to sign it.

As far as I'm concerned, the sooner that happens, the better.

John O'Connor is editorial director of McKnight's Senior Living. Email him at john.oconnor@mcknights.com.

In Focus

June 13

Survey says ... game show week is a hit

Rochester, NY 

St. John's Home recently hosted "Game Show Week 2.0" in recognition of Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month, which is June.