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Drugs and the Death Penalty: Breaking the Supply Chain

Credit: iStockphoto/Андрей Юдин

Credit: iStockphoto/Андрей Юдин

By Brittany Howard

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has banned the sale of its drugs for use in executions, but this has led some US states to experiment with lethal injection protocols.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

In April of this year, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced that it will be imposing sweeping restrictions concerning its drugs that are used in carrying out the death penalty, which will effectively bring an end to the open market for execution drugs in the US. As it stands, all FDA-approved manufacturers of potential execution drugs, a diverse suite of 25 global companies, have blocked the sale of their products for use in executions (rsc.li/2aFfuJ7).

Adding to the difficulty in procuring drugs for use in executions, the UK introduced a ban on the export of drugs that are utilised in lethal injection. Europe followed shortly thereafter, and introduced a ban by amending its torture regulation. Because of this, as of 2011, the US has been prevented from procuring lethal injection drugs from both Europe and the UK.

US state correctional facilities looked farther afield, approaching Mumbai company Kayem Pharmaceuticals. When it became evident to Kayem that the drugs were being used for lethal injection, Kayem immediately stopped exporting drugs to the US.

For opponents of capital punishment, these events are significant steps towards abolishing the death penalty. However, the events raise serious concerns over the emergence of a black market for execution drugs, drug regulation and correct drug use in lethal injection. Indeed, many attribute the...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.