When drug company Valeant Pharmaceuticals cynically upped the price of life-ending drugs a few years ago, it presented a challenge to physicians advising patients who were looking to end their lives.
The cost of Seconal, the drug of choice at the time, was increased by Valeant to $3,000 per dose. This forced doctors and patients to look for less expensive but equally effective alternatives to the drug.
Alternative methods emerge
They say that crisis drives innovation. And that certainly seems to be the case here. A team of doctors from the Northwest came up with a four drug ‘cocktail’ that brings together anxiety medication diazepam, heart medication digoxin, morphine and heart medication, propranolol.
Of course it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Some of the deaths were taking too long to occur so doctors are now considering upping the dosage of the four drug mix.
Most patients went into a deep sleep ten minutes after taking the drugs, with death predicted to take up to four hours. The problem was some were taking up to 31 hours to pass away. The doctors noted that in the cases of patients already used to taking many painkillers and medication, death would take longer.
Patients don’t suffer despite amount of time
Regardless of how much time it took, doctors agreed that there was no suffering to those who took the drugs. Although, one can only imagine how emotionally draining this process might be for the patient’s loved ones.
I’m glad to hear that doctors are taking the initiative and fine-tuning the assisted-dying process in the wake of the actions by a profiteering company.
When we work with our clients at developing legal instruments such as medical directives, there is an implicit trust that their wishes will be carried out when their time comes. Having the option of a professional and reliable assisted dying process in place goes a long way to ensuring that all options can be relied upon when the time comes.
If you want to talk to us about medical directives or a will, please contact us.