HomeoldSome Dutch pharmacists refusing to supply euthanasia drugs

Some Dutch pharmacists refusing to supply euthanasia drugs

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Although euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, some Dutch pharmacists are refusing to supply the lethal drugs needed to carry it out. According to the investigative TV program Altijd Wat Monitor, this does not necessarily happen because of religious objections to euthanasia. Some pharmacists do not know the doctors who approved the euthanasia; others do not agree with euthanasia for conditions like dementia or depression. “A pharmacy is not a shop where deadly drugs are just handed over,” a spokesperson for the pharmacists’ association said.

Pharmacists have no official role in the euthanasia protocols and they are not obliged to cooperate. According to Annemieke Horikx, of the association, they should not be regarded as mere instruments in the hands of doctors. “If you don’t agree you can’t continue,” she said. She also complained that doctors call pharmacies and demand immediate service. “That’s no way to request medication. These are matters of life and death we’re dealing with.”

Green MP Linda Voortman was outraged by the news and wants the Health Minister to intervene. “Pharmacists should not be able to refuse what two doctors have approved,” she said.

Editor’s note. This appeared at www.bioedge.org.

The decision by some Dutch pharmacists to refuse to supply euthanasia drugs highlights the complex ethical and moral considerations surrounding end-of-life care and the practice of assisted dying. In the Netherlands, where euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are legal under specific conditions, pharmacists play a crucial role in providing the necessary medications for these procedures.

However, the issue of conscientious objection among healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, raises important questions about individual rights, professional responsibilities, and patient access to care. Some pharmacists may have deeply held moral or religious objections to euthanasia and may choose to abstain from participating in activities that they perceive as conflicting with their personal beliefs or ethical principles.

At the same time, patients who request euthanasia or assisted dying may face challenges in accessing the medications they need if pharmacists refuse to dispense them. This raises concerns about the potential for delays or barriers in accessing end-of-life care, particularly for individuals who are terminally ill or experiencing unbearable suffering.

The situation underscores the importance of balancing the rights and freedoms of healthcare professionals to act in accordance with their conscience with the need to ensure access to lawful and compassionate end-of-life options for patients. In countries where euthanasia and assisted dying are legal, mechanisms may be needed to address conflicts of conscience while also safeguarding patients’ rights to access medical care that aligns with their wishes and values.

Dialogue and collaboration between healthcare professionals, policymakers, and ethicists are essential to navigating these complex issues in a manner that respects the diverse perspectives and beliefs within society. By fostering mutual understanding and exploring alternative approaches, it may be possible to find solutions that uphold both the autonomy of healthcare professionals and the dignity and well-being of patients seeking end-of-life care.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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