For Immediate Release
NATION’S FIRST LEGAL CHALLENGE TO ALLOW PSILOCYBIN THERAPY IN END-OF-LIFE CARE UNDER “RIGHT-TO-TRY” LAWS MOVES FORWARD
Cancer patients seek relief from anxiety and depression in alignment with ongoing research on the effectiveness of psilocybin in mental health care
What: Q & A for Media
When: 1 PM EST / 10 AM PST, Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Location: Via ZOOM
Two patients with advanced cancer and their palliative care physician challenge the Drug Enforcement Administration’s position denying patients with life-threatening medical conditions from accessing therapy with psilocybin (a naturally occurring psychedelic), which has been shown remarkably effective in alleviating depression and anxiety.
A Petition for Review has been filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of the Seattle-based Advanced Integrative Medical Science (AIMS) Institute, Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., and patients Michal Bloom and Erinn Baldeschwiler on Monday March 8, 2021.
Psilocybin is currently classified as a Class I Substance by the DEA. Research by some of the world’s leading academic institutions is showing dramatic promise of psilocybin therapy in relieving anxiety and depression for patients with cancer.
Petitioners seek review of a Decision by the DEA denying access to psilocybin, an eligible investigational drug, for therapeutic use, as contemplated by federal and state Right to Try laws. Defendants include the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA Administrator and the U.S. Attorney General.
· Erinn Baldeschwiler is a 49-year-old mother of two teenagers. She has stage IV metastatic triple negative breast cancer that was found throughout her body. She was informed she had two years left of life. The main focus of treatment and care are to maintain the highest quality of life for as long as possible. Erinn would like to try psilocybin to alleviate emotional suffering, which includes anxiety and depression.
· Michal Bloom is now retired, due to disability caused by her medical condition. She formerly practiced law as an attorney with the United States Trustee Program, within the United States Department of Justice. She has advanced, recurrent, BRCA+, ovarian cancer with metastasis to her lymph nodes. She was first diagnosed in February 2017. Since her diagnosis, Michal has undergone a second major surgery to remove cancerous periaortic lymph nodes. She has endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy. She has managed the side effects of these treatments, including severe and persistent intestinal distress and multiple hospitalizations for an infected intraperitoneal port and several bowel obstructions. Michal understands that she may have a limited time to live. She does not have the luxury of waiting for the full FDA new drug approval process to run its course in order to access a promising investigational drug. Michal would like to try psilocybin to improve her quality of life as she deals with the mental health challenges of dealing with cancer.
Note: Erinn Baldeschwiler will be available on Zoom; Michal Bloom will not.
· Sunil Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., FAAPMR, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, is an inaugural member and co-director of the AIMS Institute. Dr. Aggarwal is a hospice and palliative medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation physician and medical geographer. His primary clinical work is as an Integrative Pain, Palliative Care, and Rehabilitation Physician in private practice at AIMS Institute (Seattle, WA) and as an on-call Physician with MultiCare Palliative Care and an Associate Medical Director of MultiCare Hospice (Tacoma, WA). Dr. Aggarwal previously ran the palliative care medicine consultation service at the MultiCare Auburn Medical Center hospital and regional cancer center. He was named a Top 20 Emerging Leader in Hospice and Palliative Medicine in 2020 by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine where he served as the past Chair of the Integrative Medicine Special Interest Group and is a founding member of the Safe Use of Psychedelic Assisted Therapies Forum. He is an Affiliate Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and of Geography in the College of Arts and Sciences and an Affiliate Clinical Faculty at Bastyr University, School of Naturopathic Medicine. His medical geographic scholarship interests are in geographies of access, delivery, and development of cannabinologic and psychedelic integrative medicine, especially as they pertain to development in pain management, hospice and palliative medicine, and rehabilitation services.
· Kathryn Tucker, Esq., special counsel, Emerge Law Group, Portland, OR, is one of the nation’s leading patient rights advocates. Kathryn is Special Counsel at Emerge Law Group, where she co-chairs the Psychedelic Practice Group. Kathryn is also executive director of the End of Life Liberty Project (ELLP). Kathryn founded the ELLP during her tenure as executive director of the Disability Rights Legal Center (DRLC), the nation’s oldest disability rights advocacy organization. Tucker served two decades as Director of Advocacy and Legal Affairs for Compassion & Choices, working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life. She has held faculty appointments as Associate Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, and as Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Washington, Seattle University and Lewis & Clark Schools of Law, teaching in the areas of law, medicine and ethics, with a focus on the end of life. Tucker was counsel representing patients before the SCOTUS in Glucksberg v WA, Quill v NY, and Oregon et al v Gonzales.
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