The House bill, which was released Saturday by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas, is similar to legislation passed by the Senate in August. GOP leaders could revisit the measure, perhaps after changing it.
Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe/Northampton) said his proposal would greatly decrease the chances of leaving deceased animals unrecovered.
"By defeating this bill tonight, we protected patients and supported FDA's continued role in approving experimental treatments that may help save a patient's life", said Rep.
The House has rejected a Republican bill easing how experimental drugs are provided to people with terminal illnesses.
But none of them can override the federal law that says all drugs must have FDA approval. The "Right to Try" bill gained added momentum after President Donald Trump called for its passage in January's State of the Union address.
The FDA's expanded-access program, which receives about 1,000 requests a year for experimental drugs, already approves 99 percent of the appeals.
Republicans say the "Right to Try" legislation gives hope to patients with fatal diseases and erects safeguards to protect them. A federal right-to-try bill is also a top priority for Vice President Mike Pence, who approved a state version while governor of Indiana.
The bill would "authorize the use of eligible investigational drugs by eligible patients who have been diagnosed with a stage of a disease or condition in which there is reasonable likelihood that death will occur within a matter of months, or with another eligible illness, and for other purposes".
Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., announced his opposition to the House bill Monday, saying it gives patients "false hope" and puts them at risk by removing the FDA from overseeing use of experimental treatments.
"This is a right-to-ask bill, not a right-to-try bill", said Holly Fernandez Lynch, assistant professor of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine.
Under the new bill, the FDA would be notified if a patient tries a new treatment, and it would collect data on poor outcomes.
"FDA provides helpful information about dosing, or safety monitoring, or something that should be disclosed", she said. Manufacturers would still not be required to provide their pharmaceuticals. Its fate is uncertain because it's opposed by top Democrats and scores of patients' groups.