Put Your Health Choices Back in Your Hands

It's your health, and when you're a patient the treatment you receive should be your decision. The Access to Medical Treatment Act (AMTA) currently being considered by Congress gives back the authority to patients and their doctors to use medical treatments and devices that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

AMTA will make alternative medical treatments more accessible to the public, and give many patients who face life-threatening afflictions another viable option in their health care choices.

We need to show our support for this legislation and make it clear that our health is our decision.

Today, access to the full range of therapies, products, and medical devices is quite restricted in the United States. Americans are prevented from using life enhancing and even life-saving therapies that have been used in other countries for decades.

Tell your Congressional representative to support the enactment of the Access to Medical Treatment Act into law.

Every year, Americans with severe chronic or terminal diseases and their doctors face an FDA Catch-22. Access to Medical Treatment Act (AMTA), HR 2792 would help fix this dilemma. I am writing to ask for your support and sponsorship this crucial bill.

This is truly a patients' Bill of Rights. It returns the decision-making authority to the patient, and reasserts the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. Most importantly, it gives American consumers access to the many drugs and therapies that are available to people all over the world, but which cannot be sold in the United States.

Today, we have a two-tiered medical system: one track for people who can afford to fly to Germany or Italy or Canada for life-enhancing and life-saving treatments; and one track for the rest of us. As a result, we are literally encouraging a black market in such things as cancer and arthritis treatments. We are also condemning millions of Americans to a life of pain and even premature death because they cannot use safe and effective products that are available elsewhere in the world.

It takes an average of 10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars to get one drug through the FDA approval process. Not every company is willing or able to make that kind of investment, especially if they are already selling their products in other countries. In the case of non-patentable products, there is simply no incentive for companies to make that kind of investment.

There are safe and proven medical treatments available in the European Union countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan that could provide an option when FDA approved drugs or devices have not worked. Instead of being able to receive these treatments in our local community, under the supervision of a licensed healthcare professional, the only option is for patients to leave our country to seek out medical help. And only for those who can afford to travel outside of the country on top of medical expenses. In essence, this means only the wealthy can afford the best healthcare.

This bill contains numerous patient protections, including strict informed consent procedures. Patients must visit an authorized practitioner to access unapproved drugs and devices. Practitioners may not exceed their scope of practice or advertise unapproved drugs or devices. Information about beneficial results must be reported to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at NIH, and information about negative results must be reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even one adverse event will result in the unapproved product being removed from the market.

I believe -- and hope you agree -- that it is possible for Americans to decide if they want to use a particular therapy and that it is possible for their physicians to know if a therapy will help a patient. Americans should not be denied full access to medical treatments in their own communities when there is no evidence that an FDA unapproved treatment is harmful.

Please consder supporting this legislation and becoming a sponsor. Please let me know what your position is on AMTA.


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