OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - Sen. Sam Brownback said Friday his presidential pursuit has gone well so far, and he praised the Food and Drug Administration's move to give seriously ill patients easier access to experimental drugs.
The Kansas Republican spoke to reporters before delivering the keynote address at a Christian radio luncheon. He said he will be closely watching a new FDA proposal in which patients with life-threatening illnesses could gain access to new treatment alternatives.
"We can get to this goal of eliminating deaths by cancer in 10 years," Brownback said. "We have to be aggressive and we have to be innovative. And here's one of the proposals that's starting to move forward in the system."
The senator said the FDA proposal will remove hurdles that have kept thousands of seriously ill patients from being able to take certain drugs. Last year, Brownback wrote legislation - dubbed the Access, Compassion, Care and Ethics for Seriously-Ill Patients Act - to address the challenges he felt were affecting those patients.
The FDA proposal "creates a strategy to implement the ideas contained in the ACCESS Act," Brownback said.
"To reach our goal of eliminating deaths by cancer within 10 years, we must think outside of the box like we did during the early portion of the AIDS crisis," he said, "and address the needs of patients in a manner that offers them the largest number of treatment options."
Brownback's appearance Friday at the Sheraton Overland Park came during a break in his 10-state tour to gauge presidential support.
He has visited Iowa a couple of times and is returning there next week. He has vowed to campaign heavily in Iowa, the site of the first presidential caucuses.
Stops also are planned in Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana.
"I've gotten a good response," said Brownback, 50. "I think the field is open for a full-scale conservative. That's what I am."
About 180 people attended the Christian radio luncheon organized by the Bott Radio Network, a family run Christian talk radio network with Kansas City roots.
Richard Bott Sr., president of the network, said he invited Brownback to be the luncheon keynote speaker well before the senator announced his presidential aspirations.
"I heard him speak in Washington, and he spoke from his heart," Bott said. "I felt he was the real deal."
Brownback is held in high regard among religious conservatives, and is known for his opposition to abortion, gay marriage and embryonic stem-cell research.
He has been weighing a White House bid for nearly two years, but only recently took the first step by launching the 10-state tour. He also has formed a presidential exploratory committee.
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