The ‘Right to Try’ Law


Joe Donnelly gets ready for TV interviews with Laura and Jordan McLinn.


U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly’s (D-IN) and Ron Johnson (R-WI)’s bipartisan Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act passed the Senate unanimously and was signed into law by the president on May 30, 2018. This legislation would allow terminally ill patients who have exhausted all approved treatment options to access certain investigational drugs for treatment. Donnelly first met Indianapolis resident Laura McLinn and her son Jordan McLinn—who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a disease with no cure—in early 2016. Since then, Donnelly has met with the McLinn family several times and worked closely with them to advance this legislation in the Senate.  


Donnelly said, “I am pleased my bipartisan legislation passed the Senate because it would give families the right to try and the chance to exhaust all options to treat a terminally ill loved one. I was proud to partner with my Republican colleague Senator Johnson and the McLinn family in Indianapolis on this effort to allow people like the McLinns and other families across the country the opportunity to access potentially life-saving, clinically tested medical treatment.”

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Laura McLinn, mother of Jordan McLinn, said, “Our family became huge advocates for the ‘Right To Try’ law as we realized that there are so many people like our family who want the right to try potentially life-saving drugs. There are so many terminally ill people who don't have that time to wait. We are grateful to Senator Ron Johnson who introduced the ‘Right To Try’ legislation in the Senate after my son Jordan and I testified at a hearing he held to talk about how to speed up the process for terminally ill patients to be able to receive potentially life-saving drugs. We also met with Senator Donnelly, shared our story, and we were so grateful for the day that he told us he would support this legislation. Their leadership on this means the world to our family. Jordan is now in a clinical trial where he is receiving an experimental drug that we hope will slow the progression of his fatal disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Our family continues to advocate for this legislation for all of the people who aren't that lucky right now. We also continue to advocate for Jordan. He, too, could benefit from this becoming law one day in the future.”

Donnelly announced his support for the bipartisan Right to Try Act in August 2016 and helped reintroduce the bipartisan legislation with Johnson in January 2017 that would give terminally ill patients the right to try potentially life-saving drugs.  In 2015, then-Governor Mike Pence signed a similar law in Indiana. The legislation that passed the Senate today will move to the House of Representatives for a vote and Donnelly is hopeful it will be considered after the House is back in session in September.