May 30 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump signed controversial legislation Wednesday that allows terminally ill patients to bypass federal regulations in seeking experimental treatment.
It allows patients to ask pharmaceutical companies for medication that passed Phase 1 of FDA approval, but is still undergoing testing.
The law stipulates that patients must have exhausted other options and the pharmaceutical companies are under no obligation to provide the drugs.
Critics say the law undermines the FDA's authority and can lead to patients taking harmful medications. The FDA already has an expedited program in which seriously ill patients can apply for access to some experimental treatments. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said 99 percent of those requests are approved.
Pence joined Trump at Wednesday's signing as well as several patients and their families.
After signing, Trump pointed out that patients "had to travel to another country, another continent, to seek treatment," and said the United States has "experimental treatments and products that have shown great promise, and we weren't able to use them."