Nitschke to apply to TGA for euthanasia drug

EUTHANASIA advocate Dr Philip Nitschke has confirmed that he and a Sydney GP are set to lodge applications to prescribe the banned barbituate Nembutal through the TGA’s special access scheme.

Palliative care experts have questioned the motivation for the applications – understood to be the first in Australia – that would allow the doctors to prescribe the drug to two terminally ill patients.

Palliative Care Australia president, Dr Scott Blackwell, said there was no good clinical reason for the two doctors to prescribe Nembutal. The drug was previously available as a sleeping tablet in the 1950s, and is now used as a euthanasia drug in the Netherlands and Switzerland.

“The only capacity the barbiturate has [compared to a benzodiazepine] is the fact it has a smaller fatal margin… as far as symptomatic relief goes is it is an inferior drug,” said Dr Scott.

Dr Nitschke said he had sought legal advice that