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'Right to Try' Update: Idaho Legislature Committee Agrees to Full Hearing on Proposed Measure

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John Knudsen wrote to the Idaho Legislature in February 2015: "I was given death sentence five years ago." - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • John Knudsen wrote to the Idaho Legislature in February 2015: "I was given death sentence five years ago."


Rep. Melissa Wintrow (D-Boise) stood before the House Health and Welfare Committee Thursday morning to unveil proposed "Right to Try" legislation, but she also had a special message for one of her constituents who was listening at home, via the Legislature Live audio service.

"He's home-bound. He's not doing well. His name is John Knudsen," said Wintrow.

After spending two decades as a law enforcement officer, Knudsen's life is now limited by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (aka ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), which triggers spasms, muscle atrophy and speech impairment.

"There's nothing the doctors can do," Knudsen told Boise Weekly in an interview at his Boise home.

Still, Knudsen is hopeful for other Idahoans who may have recently received a fatal diagnosis. For them, he said, there's "The Right to Try," already passed by 24 other states. Right to Try laws allow physicians to prescribe trial medications that have not yet passed the Food and Drug Administration's approval process, which can take 16 to 18 years.

"You'll hear stories from people in Idaho who have tried to work with the FDA , but with great frustration," Wintrow told members of the House Health and Welfare Committee.

With that, committee members unanimously agreed the proposal should receive a bill number and undergo a full public hearing, expected sometime in the next week or two.