Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has introduced a bill that would allow some end-of-life patients to use psilocybin and other investigational treatments.
The Right to Try Clarification Act would revise a current law that was designed to give access to experimental treatments to dying patients who have exhausted other options. The proposed bill would add Schedule I substances that have completed phase 1 clinical studies to the list of available options.
“Federal restrictions have obstructed access to end-of-life care for too long, this legislation will change that and ensure that all patients have the Right to Try,” Blumenauer said in a statement. “The psychedelics laws in this country are broken, including our laws governing patients’ access to new and promising end-of-life care.”
To date, 41 states have passed Right to Try laws that included investigational therapies like psilocybin.
Psychedelics have become a hot topic in health care, particularly as it pertains to mental health care and palliative care.
Researchers have identified a number of potential clinical benefits, including reduction of anxiety, depression and improved acceptance of mortality, according to a 2019 literature review in the journal Current Oncology.
Momentum has been building towards the decriminalization of psychedelics, often for medical use. A number of jurisdictions also have passed laws that allow for more extensive research opportunities.
And the research efforts are also heating up. For example, Johns Hopkins Medicine in 2019 established a Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research backed by $17 million in grants.
Meanwhile, venture capitalists and other investors are spending billions to get on the ground floor of what could become a new health care industry.
The psychedelics industry is expected to bring in more than $6.85 billion by 2027, Forbes reported. Many of these investors are seeking to reproduce the lucrative results of the cannabis industry that emerged in the wake of legalization among a number of states.
Blumenauer cited discrepancies between the way the federal government and the states approach psychedelics as one impetus behind the bill.
“Both psilocybin and MDMA have demonstrated tremendous care potential in phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials,” the congress member indicated in a statement. “The Drug Enforcement Agency, however, has refused to accommodate Right to Try laws and denied terminally ill patients their freedom to elect their preferred treatments.”