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Senate passes bill to give terminally ill patients 'right to try'

House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, presents a portrait to the Lockhart family during a tribute to the late Speaker of the House Rebecca Lockhart at the Legislature in Salt Lake City, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. Lockhart's name came up Thursday during a Senat
House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, presents a portrait to the Lockhart family during a tribute to the late Speaker of the House Rebecca Lockhart at the Legislature in Salt Lake City, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. Lockhart's name came up Thursday during a Senate debate on the "right to try" bill.
Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Late Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart's name came up Thursday during a Senate debate on the "right to try" bill.

HB94, which passed unanimously, creates a way for people with terminal illnesses who have exhausted traditional treatments to try investigational drugs and devices that do not have full federal regulatory approval.

One of Lockhart's close friends, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, described how difficult it was watch her slip away day by day knowing nothing could be done. Lockhart was diagnosed with an extremely rare neurodegenerative brain disease known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease on Jan. 5. She died seven days later.

Bramble said he doesn't know of any experimental treatments for the illness, but "we would have jumped on that in a heartbeat" if there were.

"We can only wish there was something available that would have helped Speaker Lockhart at the time," said Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City.

The Senate made some changes to bill, sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, so it goes back the House for consideration.

— Dennis Romboy