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Supply of euthanasia drug professional suicide

Supply of euthanasia drug professional suicide says Veterinary Association president

Dr Philip Nitschke's suggestion that a person could obtain a dangerous narcotic for human euthanasia from a veterinarian is a slur on the integrity and professionalism of veterinarians, says Veterinary Association president John Maclachlan.

"It is both illegal and unethical for veterinarians to supply veterinary products for human use and I am surprised that any member of the medical profession, which is itself bound by a code of ethics, would come up with a proposal like that," says Dr Maclachlan.

He was commenting on a report in The Nelson Mail that claimed Dr Nitschke had told a Nelson audience that having an affair with a veterinarian who had access to the barbiturate pentobarbital (which goes by the trade name Nembutal) was an option for human euthanasia.

"Pentobarbital is a very old product that was used commonly in the past for anaesthetising animals before anaesthetic machines with anaesthetic gases became available. Nowadays the only veterinary formulation of pentobarbital licensed here is an injection for euthanasia of animals," says Dr Maclachlan.

"Under veterinary medicine licensing legislation this drug is a Class 2 Prescription Animal Remedy, meaning it is a dangerous drug that is tightly controlled. It is also a Class C controlled drug under the Medicines Act and regulated under the Misuse of Drugs Act."

"To my mind it is irresponsible and mischievous to suggest that any veterinarian would supply this drug to any other person," he said. "It would be professional suicide for a veterinarian to do such a thing."


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