A sign promoting promoting assisted suicide is displayed at the Hemlock Society's annual meeting being held at the Bahia resort in San Diego, California, Jan. 10, 2003. Getty Images/Sandy Huffaker

It's been a year since a state law called “End Of Life Option,” legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide by physician-prescribed life-ending drugs went into effect in June 2016. Since then, 504 terminally ill patients have come forward and opted for euthanasia.

The term “Euthanasia” refers to intentionally ending the life of a person suffering from an incurable and painful disease.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term refers to “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (such as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.”

Veterinarian Wendy McCulloch draws an injection of sedative to put a dog to sleep ahead of a final euthanasia injection in New York City, May 9, 2012. Getty Images/John Moore

However, euthanasia is different from “assisted suicide” in the sense that while the former points essentially to end-of-life procedures performed by the doctor himself on a patient, which may include life-ending injections, while the latter is described as a lethal dose of drugs willingly purchased by the patient to end his own life, according to Patients Rights Council.

Read: What Is Euthanasia? Dutch Debate Assisted Suicide Law For Healthy People

The law, that went into effect in California, allows assisted suicide as opposed to euthanasia.

“While euthanasia remains illegal in all states, a growing number of states -- including California -- do allow physician-assisted suicide. In addition to California's Natural Death Act, which allows the removal from life-support procedures or devices, the state's End of Life Option Act permits certain terminally ill patients to request lethal drugs which they administer on their own time,” ​Find Law states.

The positive statistics obtained so far represents the number of patients who got in touch with the Compassion & Choices, an advocacy group that provides information regarding the law as well as directs people to places where they can find the needed prescriptions.

“We won’t have the full picture until the state releases its data about how many people have utilized the law, but we have enough evidence to show it is working remarkably well in a state with 10 times Oregon’s population,” said Matt Whitaker, the group’s California director, New York Daily News reported.

“The personal stories of the people who have utilized the law show it has provided them comfort and relief from intolerable suffering, just as the state Legislature intended it to do,” he added.

Life-ending drugs
Life-ending drugs are legal in California. In this picture, taken in Brussels, shows a 'euthanasia kit' available in the 250 Belgian Multipharma's chemist shops for the general practitioners who want to practice euthanasia at the patients' homes, April 18, 2005. Getty Images/Etienne Ansotte

About 204 people received such prescriptions in Oregon, last year, a state which had adopted the law back in 1997. 133 people of those who received the prescription, took the drugs and died peacefully. Most of those who opted for the drugs were terminally ill cancer patients.

Based on how well people react to the law in California, a nation-wide implementation of the "End Of Life Option" could be possible in the near future, a report stated.

Since medical care system has yet to evolve to the point where terminally ill patients can be given painless deaths, an increasing number of Californians are looking at the “End Of Life Option” as the only alternative to euthanatizing themselves.

In addition to California and Oregon, physician-assisted suicides are also legal in Colorado, Montana, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C.