Two cancer patients were part of Quebec's first-ever legal group session of psilocybin-assisted therapy experience granted through Health Canada's Special Access Program.
Montréal, QC (November 13, 2023) – In a historic development, two cancer patients received simultaneous psilocybin-assisted therapy (PAT) treatment on September 22nd, 2023, at The Hope & Cope Wellness Centre in Montréal, under the care of Dr. Houman Farzin. This session marks Quebec’s first-ever legal group experience with psilocybin, access to which was granted through Health Canada's Special Access Program (SAP) and with medicines donated by Psygen and Filament Health.
Quebec continues to be at the forefront of incorporating psychedelic therapies into its healthcare system. This groundbreaking treatment comes nearly a year after the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) recognized PAT as a medically indicated service, enabling family physicians to receive reimbursements for their time in delivering the therapy.
Dr. Farzin, a TheraPsil trainer, supervisor, and member of the ethics committee, is a testament to Quebec's commitment to responsible advancements in psychedelic therapy. Dr. Farzin is expected to be reimbursed by the RAMQ, showcasing the province's dedication to expanding access to this innovative therapy.
The patients, who were previously unacquainted, underwent thorough preparation psychotherapy sessions, guided by trained therapists, ensuring their readiness for a shared transformative experience in the same therapeutic environment.
“I feel truly privileged to have access to psilocybin-assisted therapy, which enables me to reinvest in my life and give back its full meaning despite a diagnosis of a terminal illness. I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Farzin and all those who are working tirelessly to make this treatment available in Quebec. I remain troubled, however, by the fact that even here, in a country that is often at the forefront of compassionate legislation, this therapy remains accessible to only a tiny minority. At a time when we are preparing to widen access to medical aid in dying (MAiD), I believe this safe & effective treatment should be offered as an alternative.”
Dr. Farzin expressed his profound gratitude to everyone involved in making this groundbreaking event a reality and is looking forward to treating non-cancer patients with similar treatments:
“The vision, planning, and execution of this treatment took years. I am thankful to my patients for their trust, to my co-therapists for their brilliant work, to to our director of
palliative care Dr. Jean Zigby for his unwavering support, and to the management of Hope & Cope for providing their space free of charge, so that we could facilitate this breakthrough therapy in the best imaginable way. It is also important to thank the indigenous forebearers of this practice and all the pioneers who laid the foundations of this work.”
Dr. Kyle Greenway, who leads a research group investigating psychedelic therapies at McGill University and works as a psychiatrist at the Jewish General Hospital, helped guide the psilocybin session. He said:
“As psychedelic therapies accumulate evidence and generate public interest, many questions must be answered about how to make them accessible to appropriate patients in the real world, outside of the narrow confines of clinical trials. This day offered a glimpse of how this might be accomplished within public healthcare systems, in accordance with emerging standards for the non-pharmacological elements that are necessary for both safety and effectiveness with psychedelics.”
This significant development underscores the leadership of Dr. Farzin and the province of Quebec in the field of psychedelic therapy, as well as the remarkable support provided by Psygen, Filament Health, and Hope & Cope.
TheraPsil is not only committed to providing innovative therapies but also hopes that this story will inspire many more healthcare organizations, drug manufacturers, clinic spaces, charities, and nonprofits to step forward and support patient treatment, making it more affordable and equitable for all Canadians.
For media inquiries, please contact: