Nembutal Sodium In recent discussions about legalising euthanasia, the drug best known under its American brand name Nembutal Sodium has been widely promoted by advocates as a convenient and effective method for people who wish to end their lives.
Despite the limited availability of pentobarbital (Nembutal’s generic name); Pentobarbital Sodium uses in many cases of euthanasia or assisted suicide, such as that of Martin Burgess in Darwin in 2014.
Euthanasia activists such as Andrew Denton and Philip Nitschke claim that despite advances in palliative care and pain relief; a substantial number of patients in the last stages of terminal illness left to suffer severe pain or distress without effective treatment.
They argue these patients should have a right to demand Nembutal, variously referred to as the “peaceful pill” or “death pill”, to bring about death.
But while it is universally agreed key aspects of the law regarding end-of-life treatment need to be clarified, this argument is based on a mistaken premise. Under present law, there is no limit to the treatment that may be given to alleviate suffering. Ironically, it is likely any legalisation of euthanasia in this country will actually hinder the care of those most in need.
WHY NEMBUTAL SODIUM?
Nembutal belongs to the class of drugs known as barbiturates. Invented in the late 19th century, these act to depress various aspects of brain function. Barbiturates have been used for many purposes, including treating sleep disorders, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury – as well as in anaesthesia and psychiatry.
Barbiturates are familiar that provide pleasant sedation and use effectively relieve distress. In high doses, these drugs can cause suppression of breathing and death. Because of the risks associated with overdoses, they have been withdrawn from routine medical use over the last 20 years.
Now the drugs can get directly from the manufacturers or from online sellers. In Australia, pentobarbital listed as a Schedule 4, prescription-only medicine. The Therapeutic Goods Administration is considering moving it to Schedule 8, which would classify it as a controlled drug like morphine.Nembutal Sodium
In end-of-life care, experienced clinicians today use combinations of multiple treatments to help ease physical and psychological suffering. These treatments may be complex because “suffering” in such settings is not an undifferentiated condition. For which there is a single, universally effective therapy such as pentobarbital or morphine. In addition to drugs, counseling, support for the family, and many other measures commonly required. The use of these treatments often requires considerable skill.
Not only is the argument for the need for euthanasia wrong, but legalising euthanasia, and Nembutal with it, is likely to be counterproductive. This is because it will result in the limitation of access to appropriate care for the majority of patients who do not satisfy the strict criteria for euthanasia.
To illustrate why this is so, imagine the case of an elderly man in the last stages of terminal cancer. The disease has spread and is in his bones, lungs, liver, and brain. It is incurable and he has, at most, weeks to live.
His suffering is severe owing to a number of physical symptoms, fear, and anxiety. He has said his farewells to family and advised his doctors he is ready to die.Nembutal Sodium
Now consider two scenarios. In the first, the man’s doctor recognizes her patient’s suffering. She consults with him and his family and decides to provide treatment either with Nembutal itself or with a cocktail of medications with a similar effect.
She administers the medication in a gradually escalating dose. The patient’s suffering has quickly alleviated. Within a few hours, he slips into unconsciousness and dies peacefully with his family beside him.
In the second scenario, the doctor responds to the request from the patient to kill him. She arranges consultations with two psychiatrists to confirm he has the capacity to make such a request.
She fills in the multiple forms of the new euthanasia bureaucracy; overrides the concerns expressed by some of his children, arguing that mercy killing is their father’s wish.