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Government Reform and Oversight Committee
February 4, 1998
Honorable Berkley Bedell
Mr. Chairman, and members of this Committee, I come before you as one who has served with some of you, and one who has experienced the challenges and opportunities you live with. This testimony is about one of those opportunities which you face at this time.
I also come before you as a patient who can thank alternative treatments for disease for the fact that I am alive and well. I left Congress because I came down with Lyme disease. My Lyme disease was cured by a special whey from milk at a cost of about $500 after conventional treatments costing an estimated $25,000 were not effective. I also came down with prostate cancer, and again it appeared that a S600 alternative treatment was successful after it appeared that my surgery and radiation at an estimated cost of $10,000 had not cured my cancer.
It breaks my heart to have to tell the Lyme disease patients who contact me because their current treatments are not curing them, that the treatment that cured me is not available to them because of government regulations. This is a whey from cow's milk!!!
The problem arises from a Supreme Court decision in United States vs. Rutherford, in which lower courts ruled that a person does have a legal right to use the medical treatment of their choice. On appeal the Supreme Court ruled that there was no such legal right because Congress had not authorized it. The Court literally sent the issue back to Congress, but so far Congress has failed to act to assure people of this right. How sad! ! !
So now no one can use a treatment in the United States unless the FDA decides that in their opinion it is "safe and effective." And it costs millions and millions of dollars to go through the FDA approval process. This freezes out anyone except giant corporations, and makes it utterly impossible for any low cost non-patentable medicines to get into the system.
HR-746, The Access to Medical Treatment Act is your opportunity to solve this problem. . Let me explain the bill.
The bill provides that any person shall have the right to be treated by whatever treatment that person desires, so long as:
--- The treatment is provided by a properly licensed practitioner, under the limits of the practitioner's license, who has examined the patient.
--- There is no evidence that the treatment would be of danger to the patient.
--- The patient has been informed of the contents of the treatment, and any possible side effects, including a written statement that says, "This treatment has not been certified safe and effective by the Federal Government, anyone who uses it does so at their own risk."
--- There have been no advertising claims made regarding the efficacy of the treatment.
--- And the patient has signed a statement that they have been informed of all of the above, and still wish to be so treated.
This bill is tightly drawn. It will not change the FDA, nor its approval process. Because of peer pressure, pharmaceutical advertising, malpractice insurance problems, and insurance policies, the vast majority of doctors will not change the way they practice medicine in the short run. Firms who wish to advertise and promote a medicine will still have to go through the FDA approval process.
But it will break the current monopoly and make it possible for people to try some of the alternative treatments such as the ones I used.
I know that partisan politics is a factor in Congress today, but this is a not a partisan bill. It is a PEOPLE'S BILL. It was introduced by a Democrat, and your chairman a Republican is a co-sponsor. In the Senate, it was introduced by Senator Daschle, and Senator Lott is a cosponsor. In both houses there are large numbers of co-sponsors from each party.
I attach a list of organizations that support this legislation, and also information on a poll by a nationally recognized polling firm of cardiologists and oncologists. The majority of both said that they felt they should be permitted to use unapproved drugs and devices as long as they carried a warning about their unapproved status. The Access to Medical Treatment Act includes this and it also includes several other protections.
There are those who say, "We have to protect the people." What a crazy argument. Anyone can obtain rat poison off the shelf that might kill them. But persons suffering from Lyme disease are prohibited from obtaining the whey from cow's milk that might cure them.
The issue here is pure and simple. The issue is whether informed citizens should have the right to make their own health care decisions, or whether a federal governmental agency should make that decision for them. You do not need a poll to know how people feel about that. People are crying out across the land to get the government off their back and let them make their own decisions.
We let people make their own decisions as to how to be helped to end their lives, but we will not let them choose the method of help to save their lives. My God! !! And we brag that this is the land of the free.
Life is full of blessings and heartaches. My being alive and healthy is a tremendous blessing for me. My heart aches for those who are not as fortunate as I, and are suffering and dying because our government-that is you says they cannot be free to choose their own type of medical treatment.
But the greatest tragedy of all is that so far you good people in Congress have not yet seen fit to pass this legislation and correct this tragedy. I pray that this will change.