A total of 111 people in California died from a lethal prescription that was taken between June 9 and December 31, 2016.
This started when the 2016 End Of Life Option Act became law on June 9, allowing adults who had a terminal illness and were California citizens the ability to request and self-administer drugs that would aid them in dying. This law was also passed after a 29-year-old woman named Brittany Maynard made the decision to move to Oregon in 2014, so she could end her life because she was dying from brain cancer.
This California law required Cepheid, an American molecular diagnostics company that develops and markets fully integrated systems for testing in the clinical market, to provide annual reports that included the number of prescriptions written and administered, and how many people died from the use of those drugs. The reports would include other demographic information on the individuals, such as age and underlying disease.
The first report was put together from the data received from the doctors who prescribed the drugs within six months after the law was in effect. Health officials claimed that 191 terminally ill Californian citizens took the drug after receiving a prognoses of six months to live, due to illness. Only 111 people died from taking the end-of-life drug, while 21 individuals died before it could be administered. There were 59 others that received the prescription but according to the report, their doctors did not report them in the six month period.
It was recorded that out of the 87 percent who died, most of them were 60 years or older, white, college educated, received hospice or palliative care, and had a health insurance. The majority of those who took the drug had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. A total of 173 doctors reported prescribing the life ending drug for their patients.
This End of Life Option Act made California the fifth state in the nation to allow patients, who have less than six months to live, the ability to request life ending drugs from their doctor. The physician-assisted death rates were much lower in California, than in Oregon. Nonetheless, the intense debate continues over whether or not doctors should prescribe the lethal drug as an accepted medical practice.
Written by Brielle R. Buford
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Los Angeles Times: 111 terminally ill patients took their own lives in the first 6 months of California right-to-die
CBS NEWS: 111 terminally ill choose to end lives under new California law
KQED News: California’s New Health Laws Coming in 2016
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of ILO in Asia and the Pacific’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons