Euthanasia drug in short supply
9 August 2006, BRUSSELS — An emergency solution was at hand on Tuesday to a shortage of a euthanasia drug in Belgium that had threatened to make the performing of mercy killings almost impossible.
9 August 2006
BRUSSELS — An emergency solution was at hand on Tuesday to a shortage of a euthanasia drug in Belgium that had threatened to make the performing of mercy killings almost impossible.
The problem developed after the producer of the drug Pentothal transferred its licence onto another firm, newspaper 'De Morgen' reported on Tuesday.
Pentothal is Belgium's pre-eminent euthanasia drug and there is no alternative medicine.
"We have now been without it for a couple of weeks," a palliative care professor at the VUB, Wim Distelmans, said.
"With euthanasia, the intention is that patients are brought into an irreversible coma in an elegant and definite manner. Pentothal is the only means that comes into consideration."
The problem developed after US pharmaceutical firm Abbott passed the production of the drug onto its spin-off company Hospira.
The transfer of the licence caused administrative and supply problems, but Hospira said on Tuesday it has lodged all of the necessary papers with authorities and hopes to quickly have the drug available again.
It has a stock of 4,000 bottles of Pentothal which can be quickly released onto the market, VRT reported. That would be sufficient for a month.
A spokesman from Multipharma — which runs 200 pharmacies in Belgium — had earlier confirmed the seriousness of the problem.
"Our supply is completely finished," Marc Cornely said.
It had initially been feared that it would take three months before the drug would become available again.
On average, there are 30 registered euthanasia deaths every month in Belgium. However, it is estimated that double that amount actually take place.
That means that up to 180 people who wish to die a dignified death in coming months could be denied the chance, unless normal Pentothal supplies can be restored or the drug is obtained from abroad.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news