Well-known Austin attorney and activist Andi Sloan has died of complications from pneumonia, after a 7-year battle with cancer.
While Sloan worked as an attorney and executive director of the Texas Advocacy Project, she was best known for her work lobbying California-based pharmaceutical company BioMarin to release an experimental drug to treat breast and ovarian cancer with her group Andi's Army.
Sloan successfully lobbied the Food and Drug Administration to clear use of the drug BMN 675 under their so-called "compassionate use" provision. However, the company did not have a compassionate use policy for that specific drug. Sloan later gained access to a similar drug from an anonymous company.
Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, a Democrat of Austin, was a friend of Sloan. He says Sloan saw positive test results last month, but if she had access to the drug earlier, she might have defeated pneumonia. And while Andi's Army may have been a movement centered around her, she hoped to illuminate other cancer survivors' struggles.
"This whole thing, in many ways, wasn't about her," Rodriguez tells KUT. "She told me — and she told everybody — that this is really more about the issue of compassionate use and how she's not the only one in a situation like this. That was ultimately the goal...not so much to save her own life, but to change public policy and have the benefit of helping other people, and that's just the kind of person she was."
Rodriguez says companies should strive for a consistent compassionate use policy, but that the fight requires federal oversight.
A statement on the Andi's Army official Facebook page mourned her loss:
It is with deep sorrow that we let all of you know Andi was released from her pain and suffering yesterday evening.
We will miss her presence here on earth immeasurably, but we are blessed to know her indomitable spirit will live on in your memories and through the actions you take to continue the work she championed.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said that Andi Sloan died of cancer, not complications from pneumonia.