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Oregon Health & Sciences University – Debate: Is ‘Right To Try’ Right for Oregon?

April 20, 2015 @ 5:30 pm - 7:15 pm


Is “Right to Try” Right for Oregon?

Experts from public health, clinical practice, bioethics, and law meet to discuss the pros and cons of “Right to Try” legislation (Oregon House Bill 2300)

Xiao-Yu Han, Student Organizer
Xiao-Yu Han, Student Organizer

with the stated goal of expanding access of experimental drugs to terminally ill patients in Oregon. Join us and help shape the conversation: Should Oregon join 13 other states in adopting expanded access?

Time: Monday, April 20, 5:30-7:15pm (light reception from 5:30-6:00pm, panel from 6:00-7:15pm)

Moderator: Alan Melnick, MD, MPH, is Associate Professor for the Department of Family Medicine and the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at OHSU and the Health Officer for Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania and Wahkiakum Counties, WA.

Panelist: Kurt Altman, JD, is a Senior Attorney for the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation and drafted the model legislation for “Right to Try.” Before joining the Institute, Kurt operated a private litigation and appellate practice, focusing on criminal law in both state and federal courts.

Chanrda Basham compressedPanelist: Chandra Basham, MD, is an attending physician in Primary Care at the Portland VA Medical Center. She is currently studying for her JD at Lewis and Clark Law School and is completing an externship at the Oregon State Legislature.

Jeremy Cetnar compressedPanelist: Jeremy Cetnar, MD, MSHPR, is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Medicine at OHSU and is board certified in internal medicine and hematology/oncology.

Panelist: Christopher Griffin, MD, MBA, FACHE, is a physician executive and radiologist with over 25 years of health care experience and Chris-Griffin-compressedleadership who recently decided to go to law school. He is an alumnus of Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine and currently attends Lewis and Clark Law School.

Lissi-Hansen-compressedPanelist: Lissi Hansen, RN, PhD, is an Associate Professor for the School of Nursing at OHSU and has worked extensively in bioethics, palliative medicine, and end-of-life care.

POST-EVENT SUMMARY: Experts from public health, clinical practice, bioethics, and law met to discuss the pros and cons of “Right to Try” legislation (Oregon House Bill 2300), with the stated goal of expanding terminally ill patients’ access to experimental drugs in Oregon.

Thirty medical students, PSU students, Lewis and Clark Law students, and members of the public attended the discussion. An ethical deliberative process was used to explore multiple perspectives.

Audience questions were well received during the discussion and at the end. This discussion is the launch point for future debates. (One is in the works for quarantine.)

“The panel itself was engaging, well moderated, and focused. I really enjoyed that they were able to find very different sides to the topics while still respecting patient autonomy and decisions. I feel pretty well versed in the ethics of this proposed law and was still surprised to find novel arguments that gave me new light into the discussion. The audience participation was well done and respected the time of the panelists as well as the audience members. I would have liked to see more depth in the ethical deliberation. Much of the argument centered around opinion on the end effects of this law or comparison to other laws that appear similar. The argument that this law should be allowed because Oregon allows freedom regarding life-ending decisions is akin to saying that marijuana should be legal because alcohol is similar and already legal. These arguments are shallow and give little credence to the ethics of undermining drug testing laws that have prevented waves of “snake-oils” and elixers from reaching desperate patients looking for a last fighting chance. The political aspects of this proposal are incredibly interesting. In a nutshell, this law is politically unstoppable; it provides a political move that appears to increase patient rights while paralleling a process that already exists, but makes it ‘faster’ (by bypassing it). It also has no direct costs to taxpayers. I would have enjoyed a bit more reflection on the political. I learned a lot and very much enjoyed this panel meeting and hope there will be more as the year progresses. Thank you for getting this together.”

“Great event! I loved the format and the opportunity for audience participation. I started out of the opinion that ‘right to try’ was a slam dunk; after listening to the discussion I am now on the fence. I had not previously considered the potential negative effects on drug companies or on research. I would have liked to hear even more debate on what it means to provide informed consent to a patient on a drug that is still in the early stages of research.”


April 20, 2015
5:30 pm - 7:15 pm
Event Category:


Xiao-Yue Han


OHSU Collaborative Life Sciences Building, Room 2S060
2730 Southwest Moody Avenue
Portland, OR 97201 United States
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