Monday, July 21, 2008

In Tijuana, a Market for Death in a Bottle

One product from this border town trumps all others in terms of shock value: death in a bottle, a liquid more potent than even the strongest tequila.

The drug, pentobarbital, literally takes a person’s breath away. It can kill by putting people to sleep, and it is tightly regulated in most countries.

But aging and ailing people seeking a quick and painless way to end their lives say there is no easier place on earth than Mexico to obtain pentobarbital, a barbiturate commonly known as Nembutal.

Once widely available as a sleep aid, it is now used mostly to anesthetize animals during surgery and to euthanize them.

Small bottles of its concentrated liquid form, enough to kill, can be found not on the shelves of the many discount pharmacies in Tijuana but in its pet shops, which sell a wide variety of animals, as well as medications and other supplies for them.