USA: ANOTHER MANUFACTURER BLOCKS DRUG FOR EXECUTION USE
September 27, 2012: A manufacturer of the anesthetic blamed for Michael Jackson's death said today it won't sell propofol for use in U.S. executions.
Drug maker Fresenius Kabi USA, a German company with U.S. offices based in Schaumburg, Ill., is one of only two domestic suppliers of propofol, and is the only one currently distributing in the U.S.
Earlier this year, Missouri adopted a new single-drug execution method that would make it the first state to use Propofol on death-row inmates.
Other states also have considered incorporating the drug into their lethal injections. Fresenius Kabi spokesman Matt Kuhn confirmed to The Associated Press that the company told its distributors in late August that such usage is "inconsistent" with the company's mission.
It's also forbidden under European Union laws to export drugs that could be used in executions. "Fresenius Kabi objects to the use of its products in any manner that is not in full accordance with the medical indications for which they have been approved by health authorities," a company statement reads. "Consequently, the company does not accept orders for Propofol from any departments of correction in the United States. Nor will it do so."
Most of the 33 states with the death penalty had long used sodium thiopental as the first of a three-drug combination administered during lethal injections. But that drug also became unavailable when its European supplier acknowledged pressure from death penalty opponents and stopped selling it for executions. Supplies mostly ran out or expired, forcing states to consider alternatives. Most states have retained the three-drug method but turned to pentobarbital as a replacement for sodium thiopental.
Pentobarbital supplies also have shrunk after its manufacturer said it would try to prevent its use in executions. In an Aug. 28 letter to health care providers, a Fresenius Kabi USA executive vice president said the company will now "more tightly control access" by wholesalers and distributors to Propofol, which is marketed by subsidiary APP under the brand name Diprivan. The drug will not be sold to retail pharmacies or third-party distributors "to reduce the possibility that Propofol reaches correctional facilities," wrote Scott Meacham, also the company's chief commercial officer. Hospira, the only other company that distributes Propofol in the U.S., has exhausted its supply and doesn't expect to release the drug for further sale until at least October or November.
The Lake Forest, Ill.-based company also has come out with strong opposition to the use of its products for capital punishment, which spokesman Dan Rosenberg reiterated Thursday. Rosenberg declined to comment about whether Hospira also would block the sale of the drug to corrections departments when the new supply is released.
At the present time, only the state of Missouri has Propofol in its lethal injection protocol. (Sources: Associated Press, 27/09/2012)