INDIA: FIRM TO STOP SELLING EXECUTION DRUG TO US PRISONS
April 7, 2011: An Indian drug company that supplied a key execution drug to U.S. prisons has decided to halt future sales following objections from death-penalty opponents.
Kayem Pharmaceutical Pvt. Ltd. supplied Nebraska prison officials with a large supply of thiopental sodium, an anesthetic typically used to render a condemned inmate unconscious before other lethal drugs, including a paralytic agent, are administered.
Lethal injection is the sole or primary execution method in the 34 states that carry out the death penalty.
The company also supplied the drug to South Dakota, Navneet Verma, the managing director of the Mumbai-based company, told The Wall Street Journal.
"We appreciate the global concerns about the death penalty and particularly the concerns of the human-rights community," Mr. Verma said. "I decided voluntarily not to sell a single vial of thiopental for use in lethal injections."
The decision could make it even more difficult for U.S. prisons to find the drug, which has been in short supply for about a year, delaying executions and forcing some states to alter their executions procedures.
Prison officials in South Dakota and Nebraska were not immediately available for comment.
Hospira Inc., the only U.S. manufacturer of thiopental, decided earlier this year to stop making the drug due to concerns from death-penalty opponents.
Some states, including Texas, have switched from using thiopental to pentobarbital, a sedative often used to euthanize animals. (Sources: wsj.com, 07/04/2011)