For the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), physicians who seek psilocybin for their dying patients under federal Right to Try (RTT) laws are making a request for a ‘commercial use.’ The DEA is implying that doctors who want to give terminally ill patients psilocybin have a financial interest, making them ineligible for a fee waiver.
For more than a year, Sunil Aggarwal, a palliative care expert in Washington, has been disputing with DEA over access to psychedelics. He is now in court after the agency refused to allow psilocybin to be used as an investigational drug covered under the RTT statute, reported Marijuana Moment. During this time, Aggarwal submitted several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for relevant documents. He and his attorney Katheryn Tucker of the Emerge Law Group, are accusing the DEA of using deliberate delay strategies to secure necessary requests.
They are also highlighting examples of what they're calling the DEA’s attempt to avoid producing records.
“This is a matter of public interest, public health, and overall patient benefit, not just for my two patients named in the suit, but for all my patients and all patients of my colleagues in palliative care medicine,” Aggarwal told Marijuana Moment.
“If I was somehow attempting to monopolize this, then I can understand a concern over commercial interest,” he said. “But since the outcome of our rescheduling petition and other matters we have before the DEA would impact wider public policy and federal agency practice, the whole country could stand to benefit from the information requested in the FOIA filings and in the overall outcome of our case.”
The Law Is Clear
According to Aggarwal, co-director of the Advanced Integrative Medical Science (AIMS), the federal RTT statute explicitly says that terminally ill patients are eligible for investigational drugs, such as psychedelics in Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act (CSA).
Aggarwal and Ticker said in a letter appealing the designation that the RTT precisely “prohibits the compensation of a physician providing care to a patient for the purpose of accessing an investigational drug.”
On Tuesday, the DEA said it will not revise the commercial designation. “DEA contends that there would ‘almost certainly' be ‘commercial benefits to medical providers.'” Furthermore, it noted that the requesters failed to show that the record “would be of significant public value.”
Aggarwal noted that the dispute represents a disturbing pattern of administrative delay in a matter that has no time to spare.
Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Stapleton via Pexles
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