The German physicians’ ‘Body packer’ conundrum

If you were, say, a German surgeon performing an operation to remove illicit drugs from the body cavity of a ‘body packer’, what would be your options for disposing of the drugs – without breaking the law or transgressing ethical boundaries?
Just such a conundrum is described in a 2004 article for the German medical journal Der Chirurg. „Bodypacker“ als chirurgischer Notfall Wem gehört das Rauschgift?, where M. Wittau, D. Weber, B. Reher, K.H. Link, D. Henne-Bruns and M. Siech explain the following predicament.

“Even though the body packer remains the legal owner of the drugs, physicians may not return the drugs, since that constitutes the criminal offence of dealing in narcotics.”

But, to complicate matters further :

”Returning the drugs to law enforcement authorities is also prohibited because of professional medical discretion.”

In that case, there is, according to the authors, only one viable option :

“The only way out of this predicament is for physicians to destroy the drugs under the observation of witnesses.”

The title in English is: Emergent [sic] surgery for body packing — what happens to the drugs?  Der Chirurg, Volume 75, Number 4 (2004), pp. 436-441


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