In May, President Trump signed the Right to Try Act into law, making it possible for terminally ill patients to try medicines that are not approved by the federal government for market. This type of legislation has been around since 2014, when Colorado became the first state to enact Right to Try, but it is gaining attention in the news as patients, professionals, and politicians determine what it means for America.

What Does it Mean to the Terminally Ill?

Right to Try allows terminally ill patients to use treatments that may be in the midst of clinical trials, but haven’t yet gained FDA approval. The process to gain FDA approval may take years, meaning patients with a terminal diagnosis may miss out on these cutting edge treatments. There are current procedures that allow patients to apply for access to these treatments through the expanded access program. However, the process still takes time and resources. Patients have to continue to work with treatment teams, doctors, and even manufacturers to gain access to the best treatments for their individual case.

Drug Sensitivity and Resistance

With Right to Try already available in 40 states, and now enacted by POTUS, patients and families are hopeful. However, the logistics behind Right to Try, and matching patients with medical treatments is a specific science. Drug sensitivity and resistance testing is part of the clinical trial process, and the way that medical professionals determine how much a medication may change cancer cells and how the body may resist the treatment.

Drug Costs and Availability

Although there may be laws on the books allowing patients to seek experimental drugs, it doesn’t mean they’ll be easy to come by. Manufacturers will not be creating 'made to order' drugs for free, and may even have to charge in excess due to the risk involved with medical treatments that aren’t FDA approved. There is some concern about how this legislation will affect other drug costs and the pharmaceutical industry as a whole.

Learn more about Right to Try from the Food and Drug Administration press release [https://www.fda.gov/newsevents/newsroom/pressannouncements/ucm609258.htm] dated May 30, 2018. Patients should continue to work with medical professionals and work toward whole health and quality of life while managing treatments for terminal illnesses.

Summer weather seems especially brutal this year! Whether you're in the north, south, east, or west you are likely dealing with increased sun exposure, mosquitoes, heat, and more. No matter where you are or what your plans are this summer, there is a way to plan for the best, and prepare for the worst.

Stay Hydrated

While indoors and out make sure you're taking in enough water. Iced water may be what you crave and may help cool you while working or playing outside, but the goal is to drink enough H2O. If you're overheated and would rather reach for a cold soda, think again. Your body needs water to lower your temperature, but also to help it function properly. Pay attention to signs of dehydration, including extreme thirst, dark urine, inability to urinate, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. It's also important to ward against heat exhaustion while spending time outdoors this summer.

Wear Sunblock

There is a movement away from chemical sunscreens, but in many cases sun exposure can leave devastating and lasting results that are 100 percent avoidable with protection. It's important to protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays that can burn the surface of the skin and affect the immune system, the skin's elasticity, and more. The best way to protect your skin year-round is using a SPF (sun protection factor) sunblock. Choose a sunblock that is SPF 30 or higher, and make sure that your lips and eyes are protected as well. Wear  SPF chopstick, sunglasses, and hats to protect against the rays this summer.

Burns, Bites, Cuts, and Stings

Since it's summer and kids are home 24/7 it may be a good idea to restock the first aid kit. Make sure it has bandages, ointments for bites, stings, and burns, and antibiotic wash or ointment for cuts. You can protect yourself and family from bug bites by using a bug repellent. Remember, mosquito and tick-born diseases are on the rise in the U.S. Insect bites can also cause allergic reactions.

Allergies

Even people who have never experienced allergies may have a reaction without warning. You might have an allergy from an insect bite, a plant you've come into contact with, and even your laundry soap. The heat of summer can cause your body to react differently to even a fragrance you've never had a reaction to. While preparing your first aid kit for summer, include Hydrocortisone cream, Benadryl, and cleansing wipes that can clean the skin of irritants. You can also keep allergy medications on hand such as Claritin or Allegra so that you don't have to run to the drug store in a pinch. To avoid exposure to allergens and poisonous plants, stay on a path when hiking in nature and wear a mask and eye protection when trimming grass.

See Your Doctor

Summer is a great time to see your family doctor. Take your kids in while they are out of school so they won't miss any classes for their routine visit. Also, if you have experienced new or serious allergies this summer, you should see your doctor. You may need a prescription medication to prevent life-threatening reactions to serious allergies. For instance, many insect and food allergies require epinephrine to treat anaphylaxis. Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you haven't been seen in the last 12 months.

If you're at risk of losing your health insurance due to nonpayment or because of job loss, there are things you can do to avoid being dropped, or to ease the burden of being dropped -- but you have to start now.

Before You're Dropped

  • Find out if you have a grace period. If you have coverage through the Affordable Care Act, you may have a 90 day grace period. Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible and ask about your options.
  • If you can afford it, schedule your preventative care, routine visits, and immunizations for the family before you're dropped. This gives you some grace period as well, though it's not ideal to go without health insurance for any amount of time.
  • Look into COBRA coverage, which is a federal law that may let individuals pay to remain on employee health insurance plans for up to 18 months after the job ends.
  • Shop around. Look into new insurance coverage before you lose your current coverage. This will decrease the amount of time you're not covered and help you get the best plan possible.
  • Plan for the worst by looking into providers that let you pay in cash. Many local clinics offer a sliding fee based on your income for uninsured patients.

Enrolling in New Insurance

  • Shop the Marketplace. If you lose job-based coverage, you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period that allows you to enroll outside of the the regular open enrollment period.
  • Apply for Medicaid in your state. This program is available to qualifying families that meet income and ability guidelines. Medicaid is generally made available to children, pregnant women, and the disabled.
  • Consider a short term health insurance plan. Many health insurance companies offer qualifying short term healthcare plans. These plans can be purchased for special circumstances such as pregnancy, or can be used to cover a gap in coverage. Most temporary plans are highly customizable and accepted by most healthcare providers.
  • Consider discounts at the pharmacy! Many manufacturers offer discounts on brands throughout the year, and many physicians will provide samples of medications based on availability.

When it's time to find your new health insurance plan, you don't have to depend on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Use the Healthcare Finder, provided by the federal government, to find a plan that is right for you, outside of the Marketplace. Besides avoiding tax penalties at the end of the year, you can benefit from the assurance that your family is covered, come what may. Even if your healthcare plan doesn't include a prescription plan, you can get the medications and medical products at a discount, using a service like Pharmaquotes.com.

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