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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Applauds Letter Urging FDA Reform by U.S. Sens. Cruz, Paul, Braun, and Lee

May 20, 2019

Senators ask Food & Drug Administration to Embrace ‘Parallel Track’ for Live-saving Drugs, a Keystone of Heartland’s ‘Free to Choose Medicine’ Reform

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL – Four United States Senators on Friday sent a letter to acting Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Norman Sharpless asking him to expand the agency’s “Parallel Track” option to speed up drug approval for Alzheimer’s, cancer, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The letter, signed by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Braun (R-IN), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Mike Lee (R-UT) noted that the Parallel Track was opened in the early 1990s to treat HIV/AIDS patients while experimental drugs were still in Phase II and III clinical trials.

“Thousands of sufferers had their lives saved because of this quicker access to innovative medications,” the senators wrote. “It is time for the FDA to create and encourage an environment that promotes patient choice, patient access, and patient affordability. Expansion of Parallel Track is a proven solution to do just that, and we strongly encourage the FDA to act immediately on this issue.”

Read the senators’ letter here.

The Heartland Institute has pushed for exactly these kinds of reforms at FDA, what we call “Free To Choose Medicine.” It is similar to the existing Parallel Track option within FDA, but expands the program to include more drugs and work faster. Watch an explainer video and read more information about Free To Choose Medicine at the project’s website.

The following statements from drug policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.

“The policy innovations outlined in this letter could unleash nearly limitless American ingenuity to treat illnesses, cure diseases and improve the quality of life for literally millions of Americans.”

Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D.
The Heartland Institute

“In a country that prides itself on individual freedom, no American should be forced to die because government regulations can’t keep up with medical advancements. Free to Choose Medicine is not a Band-Aid solution like many before it. Instead, it addresses the root of the problem by allowing patients suffering with debilitating diseases access to potentially lifesaving medication. Millions of Americans are hoping that the FDA will adopt the innovations recommended by these senators.”

Christina Herrin
Campaign Manager, Free To Choose Medicine
The Heartland Institute


“The American people demand comprehensive, patient-centered healthcare reform. Free To Choose Medicine is a comprehensive solution that applies the principles of free enterprise to the drug approval process.”

George Jamerson
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute

Tim Huelskamp served as president of The Heartland Institute from 2017 to 2019.
Christina Herrin is a former state government relations manager at The Heartland Institute. @_Free2Choose