Medication questions for assisted dying

Amanda Lyons

25/10/2017 12:00:00 AM

While Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying bill successfully passed the state’s Lower House last week, it still faces a number of challenges before becoming law – not least when it comes to the practical matter of medication.


Questions are being posed about appropriate medication for assisted dying
Questions are being posed about appropriate medication for assisted dying

Pentobarbital and secobarbital, the preferred drugs in many countries that practice legal euthanasia, are not approved for human use in Australia, and Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt recently stated to The Australian that that his government would not support any request for legislation to approve ‘specific euthanasia drugs,’ indicating that this situation is unlikely to change.
It has been instead proposed that pharmacists will compound individually tailored doses of legally available lethal drugs for each patient. However, this raises the concern that even if the bill becomes law, not all patients who wish to access voluntary assisted dying will be able to do so.
‘Medicare and the PBS won’t pay for the drugs, as far as we’re aware,’ Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, prominent GP and past President of AMA Victoria, told newsGP. ‘And so it will only be available for people who can afford the intervention. There won’t be equal access.’
Federal Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King recently told Sky News she was surprised by the Federal Health Minister’s statement and indicated that a Federal Labor government would be more supportive.
‘I would be very disappointed if the conservative elements of the Turnbull Government tried to get the Health Minister to now block or to intervene,’ she said.
She referred to the actions of Tony Abbott as Health Minister when he attempted to prevent the licensing of RU486, commonly known as ‘the abortion pill’.
‘The only other time we have seen the conservative government intervene in drug listing was with RU486 and I think that would be very dangerous path for the Government to go down.’

assisted-dying euthanasia medication Victoria


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