ALS sufferers have rights

Thanks for your article on the ALS drug trials that have been stopped [February 24 cover story: " She's dying: His drug could save her"]. Since I have a friend with ALS, someone who even went to China for experimental surgery, I have some idea how badly these patients and their families want any drug that might help them.

Your article answered a question I've had for a long time: Why doesn't the FDA let patients with terminal illnesses try any drug they want? The answer seems to be that they do, to an extent. You introduced me to the terms "treatment use" and "compassionate use," helping me understand the situation better.

I don't have enough knowledge for a worthwhile opinion on whether the trials should start again. However, I'm sure on moral grounds the FDA should let terminal patients try this drug, or any other that has even anecdotal evidence in its favor, considering the alternative.

Carl B. Bridges
Knoxville, TN