US aims to help more cancer patients try experimental drugs

CHICAGO (AP) – U.S. drug regulators are launching a project aimed at giving more cancer patients a chance to try treatments that are not yet on the market but that have shown some promise in early testing.

Currently, when patients want what’s called “compassionate use” access to an experimental drug, doctors must first plead their case to the drug company and then to the Food and Drug Administration if the company agrees.

Under the new plan, the FDA becomes the first stop and will assign someone to do the paperwork, so that when a drug company gets the request it knows the FDA already deemed it appropriate.

FDA officials say they can’t force companies to provide access but hope that more will. The plan was announced Monday at a cancer conference in Chicago.

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