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January 14, 2008 at 4:52 PM

Supreme Court rebuffs bid for better access to experimental drugs

In what could be a setback for patients seeking speedier approval of experimental drugs, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a patient advocacy group’s lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration, the LA Times reports.

The suit, dismissed without comment, was filed by the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs. It sought to expand patients’ opportunity to be treated with drugs yet unapproved by the FDA. The agency, however, has been facing increased pressure to tighten the review process for new therapies in the wake of recent safety scandals.

Members of the Abigail Alliance recently joined efforts with patients and investors advocating the approval of Provenge, a prostate cancer drug manufactured by Seattle-based Dendreon. Both Alliance members and pro-Provenge demonstrators rallied in front of the FDA headquarters in the Washington D.C.-area last September to request more access to experimental therapies.

The Alliance’s defeat could be a temporary setback for their common cause. Provenge fans, however, have succeeded in getting several members of Congress to push for an investigation into why the FDA withheld its approval of Provenge last May.

A recent op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal states the Alliance’s reasons for the lawsuit.

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