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Patient groups hailed a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last week that gave terminally ill patients the right to new drugs before they have been given the final approval by the Food and Drug Administration for public sale. But one group likely to be impacted by the decision — pharmaceutical companies — has been largely silent in the debate. “I think it’s fair to say that it’s very important to them to remain on the FDA’s good side. So this isn’t the sort of dispute that they are likely to want to weigh into,” says J. Scott Ballenger, a partner at Latham & Watkins, which handled the case pro bono along with the Washington Legal Foundation on behalf of the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs. The 2-1 ruling, which reversed and remanded the lower court’s decision, allows terminally ill patients who have exhausted other treatments to have access to drugs that have passed the first phase of clinical trials. Judges Douglas Ginsburg and Judith Rogers were in the majority. The recently confirmed Judge Thomas Griffith dissented.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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