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Suicide pill presented at right-to-die meeting
Canadian Press
Published: Saturday, September 09, 2006

TORONTO — An Australian physician attending a global conference of right-to-die organizations intends to display what he says is the first do-it-yourself suicide pill.

The pill was devised by a group of 20 Australians with degenerative and terminal illnesses.

Group members, aged from 55 to 94, have taught themselves the chemistry to make a lethal barbiturate whose main component is amylobarbitone, said Dr. Philip Nitschke, executive director of Australia’s national dying with dignity organization, Exit International.

Barbiturates are drugs that act as central nervous system depressants.

After a year of trials, the group has synthesized the barbiturate into crystalline form.

It is being tested for contaminants in an Australian laboratory. Once they get the assay results later this month, the barbiturate — named the Peanut Project (peanut is an American street name for barbiturates) — should be ready for use, Nitschke said.

Group members, all members of Exit, each contributed about $1,700 for laboratory glass and other material and set up a lab at a farm in New South Wales, pretending to be a gathering of birdwatchers. As they experimented, they discovered how to simplify their manufacturing procedures.

Nitschke said their plan, after they are dead, is to bequeath their equipment and know-how to the next group of people who want to end their lives.

About 100 are on a waiting list. The doctor estimated that people in the successor group will need to spend only about $425 to manufacture sufficient amounts of the drug to kill themselves.

The Exit group’s barbiturate belongs to the class of medications known as pentobarbital or Nembutal. Australian law prohibits physicians from prescribing Nembutal and its sister barbiturate, Amytal. But Australian authorities have not moved against Exit’s laboratory.

However, the country’s Suicide Material Offences Act prohibits anyone from giving how-to advice on suicide via fax, telephone or e-mail, which led to Exit splitting itself into two organizations and moving its website out of Australia to New Zealand.

Nitschke’s association with euthanasia goes back more than a decade. Almost exactly 10 years ago he assisted the first of four people to die legally in Australia’s Northern Territory after it passed short-lived legislation legalizing doctor-assisted euthanasia.

The Province reports at:

Note: The conference referred to in this article is the World Federation of Right to Die Societies international conference in Toronto, Canada. September 6-10, 2006.

One Response to “Peanut Project to be discussed at conference”

  1. Harriet Hodges says:

    I would like more information on the peanut project, how to belong, sign up, how to support it with money.

    Go to http://www.exitinternational.net

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