The West

Police hunt for suicide drug
Searches: WA Police in hunt for suicide drug. Picture: The West Australian

WA police have denied specifically targeting elderly members of Philip Nitschke's right-to-die group in a search for an illegally imported so-called suicide drug.

Four members of Exit International say they have been visited by police and served with search warrants relating to the drug Nembutal in recent weeks.

A WA Police spokeswoman said officers were acting on the advice of federal police and Customs, which passed on information about any prohibited drug importation.

“If they ask us, on their behalf, or provide us with information, we can do a welfare check depending on what the item is, or (execute) a warrant just to locate a prohibited drug,” she said.

“It’s something standard. It was nothing specific to this group.”

The West Australian understands paraphernalia associated with the drug was found in at least one home.

In an earlier statement a WA Police spokeswoman could not confirm whether charges had been laid.

"On information provided by AFP (Australian Federal Police) and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service regarding the importation of prohibited drugs into Western Australia, WA Police have conducted several welfare checks and search warrants across the State," she said.

Dr Nitschke said he believed the searches were partly a response to publicity around the death of voluntary euthanasia advocate Laurie Strike.

"Our members have been told by the police that they are aware they have imported these drugs and the police also claim that they are doing this because they are concerned for our members' wellbeing," Dr Nitschke said.

"However, having a large group of police turn up unannounced and presenting a search warrant and going through one's house and belongings shows little respect for the wellbeing of those involved."

One 70-year-old Perth man who had his house searched said he had suffered anxiety and ill health since the search.

"I am very, very tired and still suffering from the stress of five local police at my front gate with a search warrant for Nembutal," he wrote in a letter to Exit.

"I have been very ill since this happened. I can't sleep, and shake during the day, no appetite, chronic anxiety, crying, high blood pressure, heart rate, stomach ache and kidney pains."

Dubbed "the green dream", Nembutal was prescribed as a sleeping pill before it was taken off the market in the 1990s.

Importers of Nembutal can face criminal and civil charges, including a fine of up to $170,000 under the Criminal Code Act 1995.

With AAP

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14

The West Australian

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