"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

2014

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.

2015

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

2016

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.

Sen. Johnson and Tim Wendler

“Time after time we were just continually disappointed by the lack of progress being made in this area. So hope starts to fade. Having a bill like this introduced, giving somebody an opportunity for hope, is something that’s incredibly important.” Tim Wendler

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling Click Here to learn more about Trickett Wendler's story

“This right to try legislation, which basically gives patients the right to medications that can save their life.” – Laura McLinn about her son, Jordan, 7

Click here to learn more about Laura and Jordan McLinn’s story.

“This is providing hope for us, for a better life. There shouldn’t be anybody standing in the way.” Matt Bellina

Click here to learn more about Matt Bellina’s story.

Johnson Calls on Senate to Support Right To Try Legislation

“Please consider joining our bipartisan coalition of senators and thousands of state lawmakers in supporting the principle that terminal patients deserve the right to try to save their own lives. If in your heart you decide you cannot co-sponsor, please allow these people some hope by not objecting to unanimous consent.”

Read the Article

Johnson Criticizes Partisan Blocking of Bill for Terminally Ill Patients

 

Johnson Corrects the Record in Letter to Minority Leader Reid After Right to Try Bill is Blocked

“I am also troubled by comments in the press made by your staff describing this effort as ‘a cheap stunt.’ Nothing could be further from the truth, and those patients crying out for a right to try do not see it as such.

Read the Article

After FDA’s Silence, Johnson Presses HHS For Answers On Right To Try Laws

 

44th Senator Co-Sponsors Legislation Giving Terminally Ill Patients Hope

 

Johnson Comments on Passage of 21st Century Cures Act, Promises to Continue Fight for Trickett Wendler Right to Try Act

“I am hopeful the reforms and resources authorized in this legislation will accelerate the development of treatments and modernize the federal approval process.”

Johnson Encouraged by Senate Effort to Pass Trickett Wendler Right to Try Act

“There was an effort last night to pass the Trickett Wendler Right to Try Act by unanimous consent. I am disappointed that because of an objection unrelated to the bill, it was not allowed to pass. I am encouraged, however, by the growing list of co-sponsors (43 to date) that demonstrates strong bipartisan support for getting this bill passed on behalf of those with terminal illnesses who simply want the right to try to save their own lives. This momentum will move us into the next Congress where I look forward to working with Leader McConnell and Chairman Alexander to get this important piece of legislation passed.”

2017

Johnson Reintroduces Bill to Help Terminally Ill Patients in 115th Congress

 

Johnson Invites Right to Try Advocate Tim Wendler of Pewaukee to Presidential Address

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“Right to try is all about freedom – the freedom for terminally ill patients to have access to potentially life-saving treatment, and more importantly, the freedom to hope.  I’m honored to have Tim join me for tonight’s presidential address.” --  Sen. Johnson

Johnson Calls on House to Include Right to Try in FDA Reauthorization Bill

 

Sens. Johnson, Donnelly Urge House to Pass Senate-Approved Right to Try Bill

“As Frank Mongiello, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stated when the Senate bill was first introduced over 16 months ago, ‘We don’t have the luxury of time.’ On behalf of Frank, Matt, Jordan, and Trickett’s family, we need to do whatever we can to ensure that Right to Try is passed by the House and signed into law as soon as possible,” the senators wrote in the letter.

“As Frank Mongiello, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stated when the Senate bill was first introduced over 16 months ago, ‘We don’t have the luxury of time.’  On behalf of Frank, Matt, Jordan, and Trickett’s family, we need to do whatever we can to ensure that Right to Try is passed by the House and signed into law as soon as possible,”the senators wrote in the letter. Read the Letter

Johnson Encourages Speaker Ryan and the House to Pass Right to Try Bill

“I encourage Speaker Ryan and the House to take up this important bill immediately and pass it so that President Trump can sign it into law,” Johnson said.

2018

President Trump Calls on Congress to pass Right to Try

 “It’s time for Congress to give these wonderful, incredible Americans the right to try.” --President Trump

Johnson and President Trump: Pass Right to Try

“The President has made it clear he supports giving terminally ill patients the ‘Right to Try’. Hopefully, the House will pass the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act immediately so that President Trump can sign it into law and give terminally ill patients the right to hope,” – Sen. Johnson

Johnson Statement on the House Right to Try Vote

“It’s disappointing to see the House fail to pass commonsense legislation that would give the right to hope to so many terminally ill patients in America. I pledge to work tirelessly on behalf of patients and their families until right to try is signed into law.”

Read Article

Johnson Statement on Second Right to Try Vote in the House

“Terminally ill patients and their families have waited long enough.” – Sen. Johnson

Johnson Vows to Continue Push to Make Right to Try Law

 

Johnson tweets about Wisconsin becoming 39th state to pass a Right to Try law, building momentum for his federal Right to Try legislation

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 “Well done Wisconsin…Our federal bill is named in honor of Trickett Wendler, who died in 2015 fighting ALS. Now, we need the House to pass the Senate version.”

Johnson Discusses Right to Try Legislation on ‘Full Measure’

“It makes no sense to me why anybody would be opposed to this, it’s about freedom, this is about hope.”

Johnson Statement on Expected Right to Try Vote in the House

“I truly appreciate today’s announcement that House leadership plans to advance this effort… I specifically would like to thank Representatives Andy Biggs and Brian Fitzpatrick for their hard work and steadfast dedication to the right to try effort.” – Sen. Johnson

Right to Try passes in the House and heads to the president

“Today, Congress restored a little freedom and hope to terminally ill Americans.”

Image may contain: 2 people

Right to Try is now officially on its way to the President’s desk after being signed by Speaker Paul Ryan.

Right to Try is signed into law by President Trump

Image may contain: 17 people, people smiling

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling Image may contain: 20 people, people smiling Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

"Today’s right to try bill signing was a moment of deserved celebration for everyone who fought to return a little freedom and restore hope to terminally ill patients and their families. I applaud and thank them all. However, bureaucracies rarely cede their authority over our lives without a fight. So, we must — and we will — remain vigilant that these hard-won freedoms are implemented and preserved as intended.”

Johnson to FDA: Agency Should Comply with Right to Try Law

“This law intends to diminish the FDA’s power over people’s lives, not increase it. It is designed to work within existing FDA regulations, definitions, and approval processes. It is not meant to grant the FDA more power or enable the FDA to write new guidance, rules, or regulations that would limit the ability of an individual facing a life-threatening disease from accessing treatments.”

Johnson recaps journey to passing Right to Try on Hey, Wisconsin podcast

In discussing Sen. Johnson’s efforts, President Trump said “He doesn’t stop. He doesn’t give up.”

Listen to the Podcast

Johnson Meets with FDA Commissioner Gottlieb to Discuss Right to Try

“I look forward to working with Commissioner Gottlieb and his team to make sure Right to Try is ultimately successful and that patients with no other options obtain the hope and freedom the bill was designed to provide,” Johnson said.

2019

Catching up with Laura and Jordan McLinn

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling

“We are in America. This is the land of the free, home of the brave. It should be up to patients, not the government to tell you what you can and can’t do.” Sen. Johnson

2020

Johnson holds hearing on early Outpatient Treatment: An Essential Part of a COVID-19 Solution

“To me, it is obvious that we should robustly explore every possible treatment to combat this pandemic at every stage of the disease. Why has there been such resistance to low cost, off the shelf therapies that might stop the progression of COVID-19 and help keep people out of hospitals and intensive care?

“I hope today’s hearing can answer that question and provide direction on how to correct this glaring blunder that has cost far too many lives.”

Watch Hearing Here

Johnson Discusses COVID Early Treatment, Vaccine on Fox News

Senator Johnson discussed the importance of early treatment of COVID even as vaccines begin to be distributed.

Read Press Release