Hospira to Stop Making Lethal Injection Drug

Hospira, which manufactures the sodium thiopental used in executions in U.S., has announced it will cease making the drug. The Washington Post reports:

The decision by Hospira of Lake Forest., Ill., was prompted by demands from Italy, which does not have capital punishment, that no sodium thiopental - which the company had planned to make at its plant outside Milan - be used for executions, officials said.

"We determined we could not prevent the drug from being diverted for use in capital punishment," said Dan Rosenberg, a Hospira spokesman. He noted that the company never condoned the drug's use for lethal injection and had hoped to continue making it for medical use.

33 of the 35 states with the death penalty use sodium thiopental, also called Pentothal, as part of a three drug cocktail: [More...]

Hospira plans to relocate its manufacturing plant to Italy, which has demanded its drugs not be used for capital punishment.

The drug has been in short supply in the U.S. for a while. Hopefully, this will throw an even bigger wrench into the death penalty in the U.S.

Arizona and California obtained a substitute from Great Britain, but British officials put a stop to that. Oklahoma has replaced sodium thiopental with pentobarbital, a drug used to euthanize animals. And then there's Texas:

"At this time, we have enough sodium thiopental on hand to carry out the two executions scheduled in February. In March, our supply of this particular drug is set to expire," a statement from the state's Department of Criminal Justice said. There are 317 men and women on death row in Texas.

What will the feds do? There are 60 federal inmates on death row?

How the chemicals work:

The first chemical in the series is sodium thiopental, a short-acting barbiturate. Properly administered, all sides agree, it is sufficient to render an inmate unconscious for many hours, if not to kill him. The second chemical is pancuronium bromide, a relative of curare. If administered by itself, it paralyzes the body but leaves the subject conscious, suffocating but unable to cry out. The third, potassium chloride, stops the heart and causes excruciating pain as it travels through the veins.

Abbott Laboratories used to make the drug but stopped in 2002.

There is a solution. It's call life without parole.

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    NPR "All Things Considered," (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by oculus on Sat Jan 22, 2011 at 07:34:40 PM EST
    this afternoon:  German Minister of Health asks German company manufacturing this drug not to sell it to U.S. for this purpose. "Not in conformity with our moral values."