Danish firm cuts off execution drug
PHOENIX — Execution by lethal injection has hit another roadblock after the Danish pharmaceutical firm that makes a barbiturate recently incorporated into most states’ execution protocols announced that it would change the drug’s distribution to keep prisons from obtaining it for executions.
H. Lundbeck A/S is the manufacturer of pentobarbital, which it markets under the brand name Nembutal.
In the last few months, pentobarbital has been used in executions because the preferred drug, sodium thiopental, became unavailable when the sole U.S. manufacturer, Lake Forest-based Hospira Inc., ceased production.
Pentobarbital is used as the first of three drugs in lethal injection. It renders the condemned inmate unconscious so he or she cannot feel the second two drugs, a paralytic and a drug that stops the heart.
Lundbeck has issued statements discouraging the use of pentobarbital in executions.
“Lundbeck adamantly opposes the distressing misuse of our product in capital punishment,” company CEO Ulf Wiinberg said in a prepared statement Friday. “After much consideration, we have determined that a restricted distribution system is the most meaningful means through which we can restrict the misuse of Nembutal.”
The new distribution proc-ess will deny sales to corrections departments in states that impose death sentences and carry out executions.
Gannett News Services