County judge fights for new healthcare law

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 7:15 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Independence County Judge Robert Griffin has had many successes during his tenure, but he’s hoping to influence one final change that could save millions of lives.

“I have to believe there’s a greater purpose to have these experiences,” Griffin said.

Robert Griffin has faced several challenges during his time in office, but his greatest came in a form he wasn’t expecting.

“I mean once you’re diagnosed with cancer, that’s a word that puts your life in perspective in a hurry,” Griffin said.

Griffin has battled stage 4 metastatic cancer for years, and while he’s received chemotherapy treatment at UAMS, he traveled across the country to Mayo Clinic for more aggressive therapy.

“The current therapy I’m on is Keytruda,” Griffin said. “Keytruda is baiting the disease along with some proton radiation which we don’t even have in Arkansas.”

In fact, there are many medicines and treatments available in other first-world countries, that Arkansans and many other Americans can’t access.

“There is no right to try if there is no right to access.”

So Griffin is working with the Arkansas legislature to encourage Congress to pass a law, establishing an immediate emergency use act.

The act would look at treatments verified by allied countries like Canada and those in Europe, to provide for those fighting for their lives against disease.

“We have to be better than this,” Griffin said. “We can’t all be Mayo, we can’t all be MDAnderson, but we have to be good enough.”

He points to COVID as exhibit A as to why this needs to happen as soon as possible.

“The monoclonal cocktail of antibodies that was developed in Europe, if that had been given an immediate EUA where we could’ve had it working here, there’s many of those 600,000 dead Americans that would still be alive.”

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