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Why do lawyers refer to long documents as briefs and
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Sunday, August 12, 2007

"Tragic Wordplay" in the DC Circuit

Until a few days ago, terminally ill patients had a constitutional right to access potentially life saving drugs - even if those drugs had not yet been approved by the FDA.

On Tuesday (August 7), in the case of Abigail Alliance v. Eschenbach, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit held that no such right exists, reversing last year's decision in the Abigail case by - the DC Circuit. In other words, the court reversed itself. Ooops.

The issue is clearly one of life and death, but in the courts it came down to a battle of semantics.

Read the rest on Huffington Post!

5 comments:

Litassistant said...

Having read the entire decision, I would have to agree with the majority. I think they got it right this time. While I don't have a terminal condition, I do have a lifelong, chronic condition that will progressively get worse and I've been waiting years for a medication to be approved that will help treat my condition. There are none as of yet, and it may be another 2-3 years before the one currently undergoing study is approved by the FDA for use.

Adam Freedman said...

Lit assistant, thanks for the comment.

Can you elaborate on why you think the majority got it right? My point was partly linguistic (hence the connection with this blog): that I think the majority in the second case defined the "right" at issue too narrowly. But I also recognize that there's a policy issue here too - do we want to strictly enforce the FDA's role as the gatekeeper for all medications? Interested in your thoughts.

Whatever the answer, I hope the FDA hurries up and approves whatever medications will improve your condition (which I'm sorry to hear about). All best.

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