A newly released report by the California Department of Health accounts for the terminally ill individuals who participated in the state's assisted suicide program between June 9 and December 31. Between then and December 31 of previous year, "191 individuals received aid-in-dying drugs under the EOLA, and 111 people died following ingestion of the prescribed drugs", writes the California Department of Public Health.
87% were at least 60 years of age, with a median age of 73. The report-from the California Department of Public Health-found that about two-thirds of those who died had cancer, most often lung cancer and breast cancer. Of those, 133 people died from ingesting the drugs, including 19 recipients from prior years. The remaining 80 patients' outcomes were either unreported or died for reasons unrelated to taking the drug. The Act requires CDPH to provide annual reports, including information on the number of prescriptions written and the number of known individuals who died using aid-in-dying drugs. Alexandra Snyder, an attorney with Life Legal Defense Foundation, said the data did not show whether the patients were suffering from depression or coerced into taking the drugs by doctors.
Christian Burkin, spokesperson for California Assembly member Susan Talamantes Eggman, said that the data may be limited, but the numbers show that the End of Life Option Act is being implemented the way Eggman and other authors of the law intended it to work.
The new law made the Golden State the fifth state in the country to allow certain patients to request life-ending drugs from their doctors.
'Basically it mirrors the experience in Oregon, ' Burkin said.
Doctor-assisted deaths were attributed to six of every 10,000 California deaths in the six-month reporting period, according to the state's Health Department. Most of the patients were older than 65 and also been diagnosed with terminal cancer.