"When I really got involved in this was two years ago, when I met a wonderful woman, Trickett Wendler, Tim’s wife, and I just mentioned this new effort I’d heard about with the Goldwater Institute, this ‘right to try,’ Tears started streaming down her face. Just the possibility of giving Trickett some hope: And that’s really what this piece of legislation, what these efforts are really about, is providing patients hope."

– Senator Ron Johnson

  • Senator Johnson advocates for access to experimental treatments for people like Trickett Wendler and many of others including Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina

  • Johnson leads letter to FDA underscoring Congressional support for accelerated review of promising therapies

  • Senator Johnson introduces Trickett Wendler Right to Try Act of 2016.  The bill passes the Senate but fails to pass Congress by the end of the 114th Congress

  • Senator Johnson re-introduces Right to Try legislation – The Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017 – in 115th Congress.  Right to Try passes Senate.

  • Senator Johnson urges House of Representatives to pass Senate-approved Right to Try legislation in 115th Congress and receives backing from President Trump.

  • Right to Try Act passes both the House and Senate.  President Trump signs The Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017 into law on Dec. 21, 2018


Senator Johnson meets meets Trickett Wendler, a young mother of three, with a degenerative nerve disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

While potential treatments for many terminal illnesses were in the FDA’s clinical pipeline, Trickett was prescribed the same medications her father was given in the 1990s.

Sen. Johnson meets Tim and Trickett Wendler on 5/8/14 at a Constituent coffee in Washington, DC.

Tufts University Study

Tufts University study found FDA’s safety and risk-averse approach to the potential new medical treatments resulted in an approval process that takes on average 14 years and costs nearly $2.6 billion for a single drug.

5 states pass Right-to-try

5 states pass Right-to-try laws giving patients and their doctors the ability to negotiate directly with drug companies for access to experimental drugs.


FDA announces it will simplify Phase 1 safety trials from 100 hours application form process to 1 hour after states move quicker the federal government in allowing

“patients and patient advocacy groups remain concerned about the time it takes to approve new treatments through the clinical trial pipeline.”

– Sen. Ron Johnson


Johnson holds hearing on connecting patients to new and potential lifesaving treatments

“The right to try to save your own life is the most personal right we have. It is unethical and unconstitutional for government to deny patients that right. In America today, terminal patients have the right to hasten their deaths through right to die laws, but they do not have the right to try to fight to live. You can get drugs to end your life but not to save it. I think most of us would agree there’s something desperately wrong with that.”

– Darcy Olsen, President and CEO of the Goldwater Institute

View Committee Hearing

Johnson Supportive of Giving Patients Right to Try

“The purpose of this hearing now is to put a face — a human face — so that we in Congress can make some intelligent decisions here, so that we can try and break through the legitimate concerns, whether it’s the FDA or the drug manufacturers."

– Sen. Ron Johnson

Visit Hearing Page

Johnson reads letter to FDA underscoring Congressional support for accelerated review of promising therapies

Johnson Statement on FDA Panel Decision to Not Recommend Potential Promising Therapies

"I was disappointed in the results of the vote by the FDA committee, as Duchenne [Duchenne muscular dystrophy - a fatal disease found mostly in young boys] is a severely debilitating and very often fatal disease for which there is no available cure or effective therapy. The final decision is now up the FDA itself."
Read the Statement

Johnson Asks FDA to Utilize Authorities Granted By Congress to Provide Patients Hope

“The cost of delays in approving or granting access to therapies is paid in human lives. I urge the FDA to consider those lives when making final decisions on this and all potential life-saving drugs. It is time to give these patients hope."

Read the Statement

Johnson Advocates for Right To Try Legislation at Capitol Hill Rally

Sen. Johnson with Right to Try Patients

Johnson and Alexander send letter to FDA regarding treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

“We write to express our concern about the ongoing delay to complete review of this drug and to emphasize the urgency with which all applications for drugs addressing debilitating, terminal, and rare conditions must be considered”

Read the Letter

Johnson Applauds FDA Decision to Approve Eteplirsen To Treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

“Duchenne is a nearly 100 percent fatal disease, and patients like Jordan McLinn have been crying out for the FDA to complete its review of this promising treatment.”

Read the Statement

Johnson Calls on FDA Commissioner to Testify at Hearing Thursday on Patients’ Right to Try Law

“I write to express my disappointment that you have declined the committee’s invitation…”

Read Article

Chairman Johnson Opening Statement: “Exploring a Right to Try for Terminally Ill Patients

“For the millions of patients fighting for a chance to try, we must do what we can to help them. Right to Try is not a cure, and it’s not a miracle, but it is a way to hold on to hope,” Johnson said.