Belgian general practitioners have been able to obtain euthanasia kits in pharmacies for a short while now (see press review of 18/04/05). This initiative of the Multipharma group has elicited strong reactions, in particular from pharmacists.
One euthanasia case per day is currently reported in Belgium. While 60% of euthanasias are carried out in the hospital, the rest are performed in patients' homes. The Belgian federal control commission highlighted the difficulties encountered by doctors in obtaining the necessary substances. By law, no fewer than 10 vials of these substances can be sold at once, which is enough to carry out 5 euthanasias.
Multipharma has been accused of contravening the law by only selling 3 vials per kit. The Belgian College of Pharmacists therefore filed suit against the pharmaceutical group based on the official regulations on the packaging of lethal vials. Multipharma ended having to place 10 vials instead of 3 in its kits, causing its price to double.
"This is absolutely Kafkaesque," reckoned Belgian daily De Morgen, which has called on politicians to take up the issue.