BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A piece of legislation inspired by a 9-year-old boy in Shelby County was passed by the Alabama Senate legislation on Thursday.
Senate Bill 357, also known as the "Right to Try Bill" would allow doctors and terminally ill patients to collaborate to access safe medicines that show promise but have yet to complete the Federal Food and Drug Administration process.
Insurers would not be required to cover the cost of treatment and only drugs that the FDA have ruled not to be unreasonably toxic would be permitted.
"Terminal patients should have a right to try, and as a father and an elected official I believe we should do everything we can to help remove unnecessary bureaucratic red tape from the process so that doctors and terminally ill patients can determine the best course of action in each individual situation," Senator Cam Ward said.
Nine-year-old Gabe Griffin inspired the bill. He suffers from a genetic mutation called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It's a lack of a protein that keeps muscles intact.
"At 9 years old, Gabe walks, hugs, breathes, and feeds himself like any other typical child that age, but that will be taken away in the next few years if we don't find a cure. Without a cure, Gabe is expected by doctors to be in a wheelchair by the time he is 10 to 12 years old and lose his life around the age of 20," Gabe's dad Scott Griffin said.
The bill will need approval from the state House of Representatives. Health Committee Chair April Weaver will lead the effort to pass it and sent it to Governor Robert Bentley.
Gabe met Bentley in August 2014 during a charity event called Ride4Gabe. The Griffin family heads a foundation called Hope for Gabe.
"Traci and I live every day trying to help 'fix' Gabe's problem. Our community has rallied around our efforts, and we believe that getting this law passed in Alabama will give us a fighting chance to save our son," Scott said.