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Pharm World Sci. 2000 Feb;22(1):3-9.

A nation-wide study on the practice of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in community and hospital pharmacies in The Netherlands.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacoepidemiology & Pharmacotherapy, Utrecht Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The Netherlands.



In recent years the attitudes and practices of euthanasia (E) and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) among health care workers have been evaluated in different countries. There is, however, still an information gap on the role of pharmacists in these matters. The aim of our study was to study the attitudes and practices of E and PAS among pharmacists.


We conducted a nation-wide survey into the practice, including adherence to guidelines, of E and PAS in community and hospital pharmacies (CP and HP) in the Netherlands. Furthermore, the attitude of community pharmacists concerning this subject was evaluated. Anonymous questionnaires were sent to a random sample of 50% (n = 755) of all CP and to all (n = 101) HP.


The response rates were 52% and 51% for CP and HP, respectively. Most of the CP-respondents (95%) agreed with the concept of E and PAS and would dispense drugs for these purposes. When the data were extrapolated to all pharmacies, there were 1351 and 340 dispensing of drugs for E and PAS per year in CP and HP (94% of all requests), respectively. In most cases the pharmacist had been notified of the condition of the patient (CP: 93%, HP 87%) and a written request was obtained (CP: 74%, HP: 79%). The drugs were often handed personally to the physician (CP: 98%, HP: 86%). Involvement of pharmacy technicians was more common in HP than in CP (31% versus 6%). The most frequently dispensed drugs were muscle relaxants with barbiturates (CP: 47%, HP 71%), barbiturates only (CP: 19%, HP: 6.1%), and muscle relaxants with benzodiazepines (CP: 14%, HP: 7.6%).


Most pharmacists are supportive of E and PAS and are prepared to fill prescriptions written for these purposes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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