A South Australian coroner has lashed the federal government after it ignored calls for stricter regulations on storing a drug involved in the self-inflicted deaths of two young women.
Deputy state coroner Anthony Schapel on Wednesday handed down his findings in an inquest into the deaths of veterinary science student Erin Paige Murray, 25, and qualified veterinarian Amy Jean Patterson, 30, in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Both women took their own lives using a lethal drug used to euthanise animals.
Mr Schapel said a Queensland coroner had recommended in 2017 that the liquid form of the drug be boosted to a schedule eight poison, requiring it to be stored in a locked container at all times unless in use.
Now it's required only to be stored in an area where the public do not have access.
Mr Schapel said the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the national medicine regulator, was responsible for the scheduling of drugs and had not acted on the recommendation.
"The key recommendation... was not implemented for reasons that are difficult to understand," he said.
"A failure to store (the drug) in anything other than a locked container when not in use is utterly incomprehensible."
The coroner said objections to the up-scheduling of the drug included costs associated with installing a safe, the potential for animal welfare to be compromised without easy access, and that an illicit trade would still exist.
But he said the arguments in favour of up-scheduling were powerful and outweighed contrary arguments.
In another recommendation, directed to Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone, Mr Schapel also suggested law changes relating to the authority of the Veterinary Surgeons Board of South Australia.
The board only has power to issue drug storage guidelines to veterinary hospitals, but the coroner said that scope should be broadened to include all veterinary service providers.
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© AAP 2019