The Medical Innovation Bill brought by Lord Saatchi will be presented in the House of Lords today and looks likely to be passed, despite experts saying it will do little to improve medical innovation and has the potential to place patients at risk.
In a consultation response to the bill last month, the British Medical Association said it "strongly believes that the draft Bill should not become law".
The bill, also known as Saatchi's Bill, was proposed after his wife, Josephine Hart, died from ovarian cancer in 2011. It says doctors should be less accountable for trying experimental treatments on dying patients.
However, BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter says the bill will be ineffective and will expose patients to risk by bypassing the current protections they have.
"I'm all in favour of innovation and developing new techniques and treatments – but I'm not in favour of changing the balance of protection away from the patient and towards the doctor as this bill would do," he told IBTimes UK.
Porter said that, at present, there are strident measures in place to protect people from medical negligence. There are several steps doctors must take before using an experimental treatment, including checking best practices and national guidelines.
"In part what the bill suggests is that doctors don't need to do that, that they shouldn't be inhibited by the thought of 'am I doing the right thing' because it values innovation and says innovation can come from risk taking," he said.
"While it doesn't say that in so many words, there's a fear that in a small number of cases, doctors may be able to make stuff up, put patients at risk and then point to this bill as something that could be held to account for what would in other circumstances be frankly irresponsible and negligent actions.
"Oddly enough... I'm arguing that doctors should not have the freedom that this bill says they should. "
Saatchi's Bill received overwhelming support when opened to public consultation, with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt saying he would back the bill if the public agreed with it.
However, the reason it has become so popular, Porter said, is that it provides hope to people where there is little or none left.
"The really key thing about this bill is that it's being proposed by a person who is grieving a loss, and who is an important person in the ruling political party. When you put those two together you can understand where this bill comes from.
"People die and sometimes we can't do anything about it – we can only seek to make the experience better. Sometimes you can't cure people. I don't think there is any real principle or evidence that 'if only doctors were free to use experimental treatment on patients' then fewer patients would die.
"People search for hope. It's not our job to squash hope, but to try to channel it. I think because people search for hope that's the motivation for this bill ... It arises from a personal tragedy, but a personal tragedy that resonates with people who find it difficult to accept that in our modern scientific age the old killers can still kill."
He said that while there might be someone who has a genius idea to cure disease and aid humanity, the risk of something going wrong is too high.
"Solid advances in medicine have been built on a scientifically rigorous base and disasters have happened when we've moved off that base – just trying something to see if it works without adequate supervision or adequate oversight.
"The history of development of drugs is littered with such disasters, where the oversight is only followed later. And that's no argument for taking away the oversight; it's an argument for making it better."