At least 200 terminally-ill people from Australia, Britain, New Zealand and the United States have visited Mexico since 2001 to buy a euthanasia drug, a newspaper has reported.
The Mexican newspaper Reforma cited Exit International – the mercy killing organisation run by Australian euthanasia advocate Phillip Nitschke that promotes Mexico as a destination for patients seeking to end their lives.
“On the basis of Exit research, the best places to visit are the 20-odd (United States-Mexico) border crossings, from Tijuana in California through to Matamoros on the Gulf of Mexico,” the group says on its website.
The organisation says Nembutal – a drug usually used to put down animals – is “widely, cheaply and legally available, not only in Mexico but in many other South American countries”.
“Throughout Mexico veterinary Nembutal is available for between $US20 and $US40 ($21-$42) per 100ml bottle,” it says.
“One only needs to know the location of a veterinary supplier and the labelling in use at that location.”
Nembutal is banned for human use in Australia and it is also illegal to import or possess it, although it is allowed to be used in veterinary medicine.
The Reforma article examines the case of Australian man Don Flounders, who suffers from the fatal lung condition mesothelioma and travelled to the Mexican town of Tijuana to get the medicine.
Flounders, from Warragul, south-east of Melbourne, told the newspaper he found a veterinary pharmacy that had a sign advertising “articles for Australians”.
In March, Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers raided the Victorian homes of Flounders, 78, and Angie Belecciu, 54, both terminally ill, after they announced on Australian television that they planned to end their own lives.
The AFP was searching for Nembutal, but found none at the two homes, AFP spokeswoman Alex Kirkham said.
The raids came after Flounders and his wife Iris, 85, told the Seven Network they had recently travelled to Mexico to bring back the lethal drug for himself and Belecciu.
Flounders told AAP he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August last year after being exposed to asbestos while working in sales for Shell in Melbourne in the 1960s.