Nitschke applies for banned euthanasia drug on patients’ behalf

EUTHANASIA advocate Dr Philip Nitschke has applied to the TGA to access the banned drug Nembutal on behalf of six terminally ill patients who want to use it as a sedative.

The barbiturate, available for sale in Australia during the 1950s as a sleeping tablet, is the premier euthanasia drug used in the Netherlands and Switzerland for patients seeking to end their lives.

In March, a directive from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service warned patients against importation of Nembutal, manufactured in the US, but indicated doctors could apply on their behalf to import the drug.

Dr Nitschke said the drug was very effective for securing restful sleep but also provided peace of mind for patients "if things should become difficult and they get caught up in some medical nightmare".

"It really seems to lift and elevate people's mood," he said. "We suspect it actually prolongs life if you've got access to the drug."