Nation’s First Legal Challenge to Allow Psilocybin Therapy in End-of-Life Care Under “Right-To-Try” Law Heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:
Cancer patients seek relief from anxiety and depression in alignment with ongoing research on the effectiveness of psilocybin in mental health care.
Time: 1 p.m. PST, Thursday, September 2nd, 2021
Pasadena Virtual Courtroom
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 (the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms”), which has been shown remarkably effective in alleviating depression and/or anxiety.
A Petition for Review was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of the Advanced Integrative Medical Science (AIMS) Institute, Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., Michal Bloom, and Erinn Baldeschwiler, all in the Seattle region.
Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule 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 of patients with cancer.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear argument in the case challenging the Drug Enforcement Administration’s determination in February that it lacked authority to waive any provision of the Controlled Substances Act to allow medical use of psilocybin. The challenge is brought by a Seattle doctor, Sunil Aggarwal, and his clinic and research institute, the Advanced Integrative Medical Science Institute, seeking to provide psilocybin therapy to terminally ill patients to treat depression and anxiety under Washington’s “right to try” law, which aims to give certain patients access to experimental therapies.
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 statistically two years left of life and the main focus of treatment and care would be to maintain the highest quality of life for as long as possible. Erinn would like to try psilocybin to alleviate her 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 and was first diagnosed in February 2017.
Since then, Michal has undergone several surgeries, and several rounds of chemotherapy for treatment of the cancer. She has also had surgery to install a port for chemotherapy in her chest and has had to manage side effects of various treatments, including persistent recurrent intestinal distress; terrible constipation and recurring bowel obstruction; chronic fatigue; weakness; hospitalization for an infected port; enduring an episode with MRSA; and has experienced the distress of having open wounds for months.
Michal understands that she may have a very limited quantum of time to live and does not have the luxury of time to await the full FDA new drug approval process to run its course to access a promising investigational drug. Michal has experienced severe anxiety and depression, which conventional therapy, even Ketamine-assisted therapy, has not ameliorated.
Kathryn Tucker, special counsel, Emerge Law Group, Portland, OR, 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.
Sunil Aggarwal: M.D., Ph.D., FAAPMR, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, co-founder and co-director, 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 MultiCare Palliative Physician and Associate Medical Director of MultiCare Hospice (Tacoma, WA).
Dr. Aggarwal previously ran the palliative care medicine consultation service at the MultiCare Auburn, Washington, hospital and regional cancer center. 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.
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