Drug Company Halts Production of 1 of 3 Execution Drugs

Sunday, January 23, 2011
The state of executions in the United States, already on hold in some states, may continue in stasis now that the nation’s only manufacturer of a key anesthesia used in lethal injections has decided to stop making the drug.
Hospira, based in Lake Forest, Illinois, has not been producing sodium thiopental for some time, due to troubles getting ingredients for the product. Now, in the wake of its decision to move its manufacturing plant from North Carolina to Italy, Hospira has elected to cease production of, which is mixed with two other drugs by state corrections officials to execute convicted murderers.
On December 22, the Italian Parliament overwhelmingly passed a motion requiring Hospira to guarantee that any product produced in Italy not be used for capital punishment. Unable to provide such an assurance, company executives chose to close down production of sodium thiopental.
Thirty four out of 35 states that employ lethal injection use sodium thiopental. Hospira’s decision leaves state authorities wondering how to continue with death penalty cases.
Texas, which carries out more executions than any other state, is considering the use of another anesthetic for lethal injections. It currently has enough sodium thiopental for only two more executions.
Hospira will continue to produce the two other drugs used in executions: pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Executions Delayed Because of Drug Shortage (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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